M 358K: Applied Statistics     Unique Number 57250      Spring 06

Instructor: Professor M. Smith     RLM 10.136              mks@math.utexas.edu       471-6142

Office hours
: Posted on my home page, http://www.ma.utexas.edu/users/mks/

Class web site
: http://www.ma.utexas.edu/users/mks/358Ksp06/358Ksp06home.html (This page is linked from Blackboard.)

: M362K (or equivalent) with grade of C or better.

: Introduction to the Practice of Statistics, 5th edition, 2005/6, by Moore and McCabe. We will cover Chapters  1- 10, with occasional sections omitted. (The sections on probability are largely review, and so will be covered  more quickly than the sections containing new material.)
The text will be supplemented with occasional lectures and/or notes going into the more mathematical aspects of the subject. 

Nature of the course:

            Statistics is a mathematical science rather than a branch of mathematics. Thus this course will have many aspects of a typical math course, but many aspects that are not typical of math courses. Some things to expect:

Grades will be based on the following:
            Written homework                           20%
            Project                                            20%
            Two midsemester exams                  15% each
            Final exam                                      20%
            Class participation                             5%
            Pop quizzes                                       5%
This may seem like an unusual grading scheme for a math class, but part of the reason is that statistics is only partly math. I believe that it is not possible to evaluate accurately what you have learned and done in this class solely on the basis of problems that can be done within the time limits of an exam. Therefore homework problems and a project, which you can spend more time on, will be important parts of your grade.
            As mentioned above and below, grading will be based not just on the final answer or on calculations, but also on the reasoning shown in arriving at your final answer.

: You will be assigned three types of homework:
            1. Reading assignments. The textbook is unusually well written, so we can make best use of it and class time by your doing reading assignments before coming to class. Then we can spend class time going over the more difficult parts of the reading, reinforcing and applying what you have read, and supplementing the text with some of the mathematical reasons behind the techniques. Be sure to read for understanding and not just superficially. Thinking about what you read, and about what we do in class, is important for learning statistics. Pay special attention to the points marked with the "caution" symbol in the margin of the book.
            2. Practice exercises. These will usually have answers summarized in the back of the book. You will not hand these in, but you will need to do them to help learn the skills and concepts that you will need to put together to do the problems on written homework assignments. Be sure to do them before the date they are assigned for, so you can ask relevant questions based on preparation and understand class discussion. (We won't be able to discuss all practice exercises in class.) Usually practice exercises will be assigned together with the reading that they cover,  to help you understand and assimilate the reading.
            3. Written homework. These problems will usually be longer and/or more involved  than practice exercises  and exam questions. Consider each written homework assignment as a mini-take-home exam. See Guidelines for Written Homework and Policy on Late and Make-up Work below. Also bear in mind that the answers in the back of the book are just summaries; your solutions to written homework need to be more detailed and show your reasoning more than the answers in the back of the book.
Guidelines for written homework:
            1. Remember that one important purpose of written homework is to practice thinking statistically and to show me how well you have progressed  in your thinking. Be sure to show your reasoning -- I can't evaluate it if you don't show it. And keep in mind the following quote from the instructor's manual for our textbook:
            If we could offer just one piece of advice to teachers using IPS, it would be this: A number or a graph, or a formula such as "Reject H0," is not an adequate answer to a statistical problem. Insist that students state a brief conclusion in the context of the specific problem setting. We are dealing with data, not just with numbers.
In particular, just handing in computer output is not satisfactory.  You will often need to include part of the output with your solution, but you need to explain how it helps you solve the problem.
            2. Do not hand in a rough draft! Be sure to spend time organizing and writing your solution. Ask yourself if you would like to read your write-up. If not, rewrite it! Part of your grade will be based on clarity of organization and explanation. After all, communicating well is part of thinking well -- and making the effort to communicate clearly is an important way to develop your thinking.
            Do not hand in extra computer output. Cut and paste (either by hand or on a word processor) so that figures and computer output come as close as possible to the point in your discussion where you refer to them. In some cases, writing on computer output  (especially printouts of graphs) will work.
            Reminder: Answers in the back of the book are summaries, condensed to fit in as little space as possible. Do not use them as models for written homework.
            3.  Write in complete sentences.
            4. Pay attention to correct use of vocabulary.  You will be learning technical vocabulary in this course. Part of what you need to learn is to use it appropriately. Be especially careful of what in language learning are called "false friends:" words that are familiar, but have a technical meaning that is different from their common meaning. "Significant" is one example of such a word.
            Also be careful not to use mathematical vocabulary inappropriately in a statistical context. In mathematics, we can often prove an assertion. In statistics, we can usually only conclude that our result supports, suggests, or gives evidence in favor of a conclusion.
            5. Use symbols correctly.  One symbol often misused is the equal sign. Do not use it except to mean that the two things it is between are equal!!
            If you introduce a symbol, be sure to define what it means. Common ways to do this include:
                        Let µ be the mean of X.
                        Denote the mean of X by µ.
                        Let µ stand for the mean of X.
            Be careful not to let the same symbol stand for two different things in the same problem. Subscripts can often be used to avoid this confusion.
Project: You will be expected to do a class project that will involve conducting a statistical study from beginning to end: formulating the question, designing the study, carrying out the study, analyzing the data, and reporting your conclusions. The purpose of the project is to give you a deeper understanding than can be obtained by shorter assignments of the different aspects of statistics (especially the non-mathematical aspects) and how they fit together in practice and are implemented.
            Except in unusual extenuating circumstances (e.g., someone who lives in Waco and is only in Austin for three hours each  MWF), you will work on your project in a group of three or four people, since that will let you learn from discussion with other group members, and will reduce the work for any one individual in collecting the data.          
You will have two preliminary project assignments throughout the semester, which will count as part of your project grade. The bulk of your project grade will be based on your final report, which will be due the last day of class.
            I will give you more details as the semester progresses  and we have introduced some necessary  concepts and terminology.

            Do not expect  exams to be just like homework.  Exam questions will on average be less involved computationally than homework problems. They will often focus in more depth than homework on conceptual understanding. For example, some exam questions will test to see if you can distinguish between similar concepts. Others will be "summing up" questions to test how well you have been thinking as you learn. Others will provide you with computer output and ask you to answer questions based on that output and a description of the study from which it came.
Midsemester exams are tentatively scheduled for Friday, February 24 and Friday, April 14 during regular class time. Dates will be firmed up by no later than two weeks before the exam. If you have any serious problem with either of these dates or possible alternate dates, be sure to let me know no later than Wednesday, January 25.
            The final exam will be Monday, May 15, 2 - 5 p.m. I will not give early finals, so be sure you will be in Austin that day.
Class Attendance and Participation: This is important for two reasons:  
    1. We will be covering material in class that is not in the textbook.
    2. Discussion is very helpful in learning statistical concepts and statistical thinking.
    Since the class is fairly large for class discussion, I will divide the class into two groups, which will alternate taking primary responsibility for responding to questions in class. When it is your group's turn to be responsible, be prepared to put solutions on the board or the doc cam as well as answer questions on the reading and exercises. But remember that answers to questions that have answers in the back of the book usually need to be more detailed than the answers in the back of the book, need explanations, and need to be rephrased in your own words. 
    Of course, you will need to do assignments for all days, since one day's assignment typically builds on the previous day's.
    Please note: I expect students to make mistakes in class participation. Sometimes we learn best from our own or others' mistakes. What I look for in class participation is that you are trying, and thinking.

 Policy on Late and Make-up Work:
            1. Late homework will not be accepted except under very extraordinary circumstances. (e.g., emergency hospitalization) To allow for the normal number of illnesses, car breakdowns, bad weeks, etc., I will drop the lowest three homework grades in calculating your homework average.
            2. There will be no make-ups on midsemester exams.  If you have an excused absence on a midsemester exam, I will count your final exam grade in place of the missing exam grade.   I will not give you an excused absence unless (a) you request one as soon as feasible (before the exam if that is possible) and (b) the absence was for good cause (oversleeping or having other exams or papers due that day or week are not considered good cause.)
            3. Late project assignments will be accepted , but your grade will be lowered by one letter grade per day late.

Ethical matters:

Statistical ethics:  Statistics consists of a collection of tools which, like any tools, can be used either for good or ill. It is your responsibility as a citizen of the world to be sure not to misuse these tools. I encourage you to read the Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice developed by the American Statistical Association, available on the web at http://www.amstat.org/profession/index.cfm?fuseaction=ethicalstatistics
Authorized and unauthorized collaboration: Since the University defines collaboration that is not specifically authorized as academic dishonesty, I need to tell you what collaboration is and is not authorized in this class.
The following types of collaboration are authorized:
            1. Working on homework with someone who is at roughly the same stage of progress as you, provided both parties contribute in roughly equal quantity and quality (in particular, thinking) to whatever problem or problem parts they collaborate on. In fact, I encourage this type of collaboration!
            2. A moderate amount of asking, "How do I do this on Minitab?" However, as you gain enough familiarity, you should get in the habit of using on-line help and trying logical possibilities, then asking for help only if these don't succeed after a reasonable try.
The following types of collaboration are not authorized:
            1. Working together with one person the do-er and one the follower.
            2. Any type of copying. In particular, splitting up a problem so that different people do different parts is not authorized collaboration on homework. (A certain amount of this may be appropriate on your project.)
            3. Possession or consultation of the Instructor's Solution Manual.
Academic dishonesty aside, asking anyone, "How do I do this problem?" (as opposed to questions like, "How do I carry out this detail of this technique?" or, "I'm not sure whether to proceed this way or this way; here is my thinking about each possibility; am I missing something?") is just cheating, since it avoids the most  important part of learning statistics: developing your statistical thinking skills.

Use of Technology

General Computer Use: You need to have access to email and the web.

: You will need at least a garden variety calculator (that can do square roots) to do occasional messy calculations.
            On exams, I will not allow use of programmable calculators -- this means graphing calculators, in particular. However, you should bring a calculator capable of taking square roots.

Computer Software
: You will need to use computer software. The default software for this class is Minitab. I have posted basic instructions on using Minitab, but the instructions will get less detailed as the semester  progresses.  The instructions are for the Windows version that is on the math department computers. Other versions will vary slightly, but it is fairly easy to make the necessary alterations. Be sure to use on-line help and make educated guesses.
     I will accept use of other software packages provided:
            1. You don't ask me for help with them.
            2. They can do what is needed.
            3. You don't use them to replace doing your part (in particular, thinking)    on homework.
            4. You interpret output assuming I am unfamiliar with the package.

Minitab availability: Minitab is available in the following ways:

  1. Minitab for Windows is available at the Student Microcomputer Facility (SMF) in FAC 212. See http://www.utexas.edu/smf/ for information on how to open an account to print in this facility.
  2. A Windows version of Minitab is available via a Windows emulator. You can get a math department computer account in the Undergraduate Math Computer Lab ("The Big Lab"), RLM 7.122. Star Office, similar to Microsoft Office, is also available  in the  lab. For more information on using the  lab, see  the handout Using Minitab in M 358K.
  3. Connecting remotely to the ITS Windows Terminal Server from your own computer. This requires an IF account validated for use of the server. You will need to pay extra charges for using this service. You will also need to configure your remote desktop. For more information , see http://www.utexas.edu/cc/sds/products/minitab.html#Timesharing (Scroll down to the part that says "Using MINITAB on ITS Timesharing Systems".)
  4. If you wish to purchase or lease your own copy of Minitab, here are a couple of possible sources:

: Many homework assignments will use data from the disk that comes with the textbook. You cannot use this disk directly on the department computers, but I have put the data in the department files so that you can access it. You can also download the data sets in various formats from http://bcs.whfreeman.com/ips5e/.

Students with disabilities:
Please notify me of any modification/adaptation you may require to accommodate a disability-related need. You will be requested to provide documentation to the Dean of Students' Office, in order that the most appropriate accommodations can be determined.  Specialized services are available on campus through Services for Students with Disabilities.

Drop dates: 
The last date to drop a course for a possible refund is February 1. The last day to drop a course without possible academic penalty is February 13.  The last day to drop a except for urgent and substantiated nonacademic reasons is March 27.  After this, students may go to their Dean's office to appeal for non-academic reasons.


Dear M 358K student,

    Welcome to M358K. I hope this class will be rewarding for you.

    Statistics is not the same as mathematics, although it uses mathematics and you can bring many of your mathematical skills to the subject. In your probability course, you dealt with matters that were not as certain as most students expect mathematical topics to be. Statistics deals with uncertainty even more than probability does. The reason is that many aspects of real life are uncertain, and statistics studies precisely those uncertain aspects of real life. So be prepared to deal with some problems that are inherently messy, where you can't get the exact answer. However, not being able to get an exact answer does not mean that any answer is as good as any other. You need to use valid procedures to obtain your answer, and/or justify it by the specifics of the context. Good writing skills therefore become important. Using vocabulary appropriately and correctly is also important. So be sure to learn the technical meanings of terms, and to avoid confusing them with everyday or mathematical meanings. Also remember that in statistics, because we are constantly dealing with uncertainty, we don't "prove" things about the real world; we can just say whether or not the evidence supports a possible conclusion, and sometimes we can even say how well the evidence supports a possible conclusion.

    I believe that learning best takes place when the learner has an appropriate balance of challenge and support. This course provides ample opportunities for challenge for most students (although just what is challenging may vary from student to student). I have tried to build some support mechanisms into the course structure. These include trying to make clear my expectations for you, giving study guides for some reading assignments, using class activities, simulations, and demonstrations to help aid understanding, incorporating mechanisms to promote class participation and reinforcement of material, and having you write and have accepted a project proposal before starting on your class project. However, the individual student must accept responsibility for making the most of these support mechanisms, for giving adequate time to the course, and for finding other support mechanisms that might be needed. Different students have different needs, but here are some possibilities that are helpful for most students:
    Many students find statistical concepts and statistical thinking difficult at first . Don't let the inevitable frustrations stop you. Keep coming back to the concepts, and keep on thinking. It really helps.

    I look forward to seeing you learn and appreciate statistics and its many applications.

Martha K. Smith
Professor of Mathematics