M358K  Applied Statistics

Unique number: 56130

Meeting time and place: MWF 10-11, RLM 5.122

Instructor: Lorenzo Sadun, RLM 9.114, x1-7121

Web site: http://www.ma.utexas.edu/users/sadun/F01/358K/

Office hours: Tu-Th 9-11

Textbook: An Introduction to the Practice of Statistics, by David Moore and George McCabe. We will cover chapters 1-10 fairly thoroughly, with the exception of Chapters 4 and 5, which contain a lot of material that you already covered in M362K. Those chapters will be covered more quickly.

Prerequisites: M362K with a grade of at least C. This is VERY important. Without understanding probability, you can't understand what's really going on in statistics -- you can only plug and chug mindlessly and obtain meaningless results.

Is This The Right Statistics Course?: Martha Smith has written an excellent description of the difference between M358K and M378K at:
Please read this material if you have any doubt about whether M358K is the right statistics course for you. Preservice teachers should also consult the page
and the links within it, especially
http://www.ma.utexas.edu/users/mks/teachers/M358K.html .

Tests: There will be two midterm exams, tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, October 3 and Wednesday, October 31. The final exam will be on Saturday, December 15, 2-5. If you have religious objections to those exam dates, or other unavoidable conflicts, please see me as soon as possible.

Homework: Homework consists of reading assignments, practice exercises and written homework. Reading assignments and practice exercises aren't a substitute for attending class -- they are preparation for attending class.

The written homework will be weekly problem sets, due at the beginning of class on Mondays. Late homework will NOT be accepted, except under extraordinary circumstances (e.g., hospitalization). However, to allow for the normal number of illnesses, car breakdowns, bad weeks, etc., I will drop two or three of your lowest homework scores in computing your term average.

You are encouraged to work together, especially with somebody at a similar level of understanding as yourself. If you do not understand how to start a problem, please ask a friend! By talking things over, you'll both learn more. Of course, your homework papers should in the end reflect your own understanding and work (i.e., you can't just copy somebody else's paper, or otherwise have somebody else do your thinking for you), but collaboration is a very good way to achieve that understanding.

Remember that homework is primarily for learning, not for grading. Statistics can be misleading (as we all know), and it takes a lot of experience to develop an intuition you can really trust. The only way to get this experience is to work problems.

Good writing: An important part of statistics is explaining and justifying your results. For this reason, answers to homework (and even exams) need to be written clearly, in precise terms and in complete sentences. Computer-generated output, such as a graph, is often an important part of an answer, but an explanation in English of what the graph means is even more important. To turn computer output into something meaningful you usually need to cut, cut some more, paste, and annotate. Keep in mind the following quote from our text's instructor's manual:

If we could offer just one piece of advice tex2html_wrap_inline32 it would be this: A number or a graph, or a formula such as ``Reject tex2html_wrap_inline34 ,'' 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.

Note that the ``answers'' in the back of the book are really just summaries, condensed to fit in as little space as possible. Do not use them as models for written homework.

Term Project: This is a course in applied statistics, and that means getting a feel for how statistics work in the real world. An important part of this is the term project. You will conduct a statistical study from beginning to end: formulating the questions, designing the study, carrying out the study, analyzing the data, and reporting your conclusions. You will have two preliminary project assignments during the term, which will count as part of your project grade. The final report is due on the last day of class. I will give more details as the semester progresses.

I strongly recommend (but do not require) that you work in groups of 2-4 people. Working as a team you get more done, find your way out of blind alleys, learn from one another, and generally have more fun.

Grading: Each midterm will count 15%, the final will count 25%, homework will count 25%, and the project will count 20%.

Disabilities: The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4641 TTY.