Syllabus: Stat 202 Summer 2016

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Basic Statistics (Stat 202) Summer 2016 Section D01

Materials: [New Lectures for Summer 2016][Fall 2015 Lectures][Summer 2015 Lectures] [Spring 2015 Lectures] [Problems/Homework/Exercises][Data] [Links and Other Materials]

Instructor: Sean Carver, Ph.D., Professorial Lecturer, American University.


  • office location: 107 Gray Hall
  • email:
  • office phone: 202-885-6629

Course Description (from department website): Data presentation, display, and summary, averages, dispersion, simple linear regression, and correlation, probability, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, and tests of significance. Use of statistical software both to analyze real data and to demonstrate and explore concepts. Four credit hours.

A Word of Warning: The Math/Stat Department at AU teaches STAT 202 to prepare students to use statistics in advanced courses required for many majors. Thus the STAT 202 instructor does not always have the luxury of setting the most comfortable and easy pace through the course material. The pace will be determined by what we need to cover for your future classes. There is a lot of material in the curriculum, so be prepared to work hard and spend a lot of time studying outside of class. Please also be aware that the curriculum for a 6 week summer class is the same as the curriculum for a 15 week spring/fall class. Summer classes go much faster, and require more effort.

Prerequisite: MATH-15x or higher, or permission of department. No prior knowledge of statistics is assumed.

Text: Intro to Practice of Statistics, Edition: 8th. (About $200, new from Amazon.) Online version of textbook (12 month subscription for about $100): . Every night, there will be reading assignments from the text involving the material we just covered. We will discuss this reading next class, when I review.

Software: StatCrunch (web-based software), accessed from a browser with this link: From this link, StatCrunch is free with AU credentials. You can also access StatCrunch from StatCrunch.Com but you will need to pay.

Bring Your Laptops To Class! I will be demonstrating software in class with the idea that you follow along with your own computer. Additionally, I will be giving problems to solve in class that require a computer. If you do not have a laptop of your own, may be able to borrow one from the library.

Learning Outcomes: These learning objectives may be tweaked and edited throughout the semester.

By the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Use and understand common statistical terminology.
  • Understand data collection methods including designed experiments and sampling methods.
  • Know when to use stemplot, histograms, pie charts, bar charts, and box plots to describe a given distribution.
  • Calculate and interpret the measures of center and spread.
  • Understand the concepts of correlation and linear regression.
  • Understand the concepts of randomness and probability.
  • Understand and interpret probability distributions such as the normal, student's t- and chi-square distributions.
  • State the central limit theorem and understand the concept of a sampling distribution.
  • Calculate confidence intervals for means and proportions--one sample.
  • Use sampling techniques to test hypotheses for means and proportions--one and two samples, contingency table, and goodness-of-fit.

Office Hours: Students are strongly encouraged to come to office hours if they need or want help.

My office is Gray Hall, Room 107. Office hours are TENTATIVELY scheduled as follows: (may be adjusted throughout the semester)

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 1:00 PM TO 2:30 PM.

NOTE: If you would like to come to office hours on a regular or irregular basis and you have a compelling reason why you cannot make it during the hours listed above, please send me an email. I cannot guarantee that I can find a time that works, but I will try.

Tutoring through AU's Academic Support and Access Center. By appointment. See

Tutoring through MATH/STAT tutoring center: Gray Hall, Room 110, Hours:

  • Walk-ins welcome
  • Monday - Thursday: 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Class times and locations:

  • Monday - Thursday: 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM, WARD CIRCLE BUILDING, Room 302
  • Expect a 7-10 minute break around 11:00 AM (but not at exactly the same time every day).

Important Dates:

  • June 27 (Monday): First day of class.
  • July 4 (Monday): Independence Day, no class.
  • July 5 (Tuesday): Optional-Extra-Credit-Project Proposals due.
  • July 14 (Thursday): Midterm Exam (Location: Anderson B-11).
  • July 18 (Monday): Optional-Extra-Credit-Project Progress Reports Due.
  • August 4 (Thursday): Last Class, Final Exam (Location: Anderson B-11), Optional-Extra-Credit-Projects due.

Optional Extra-credit Project: I give you the opportunity to complete an optional extra-credit project. These projects can be a lot of work, but they can also be, for less extra credit, much less work. Topics will be different for each person. Your project must relate to statistics. Your project must involve effort that has an educational benefit to you. There must be a component of the project that communicates your results to me, as either a paper, a PowerPoint presentation, a statistical dashboard (Google this, if you do not know what this is), a YouTube video, etc. If doing a YouTube video, email me the link and include it in the written part you turn in. (Obviously, you won't print out a video, but, as explained below, there is more to turn in, and a printed link should be included.) For all other media, you must give me a hard copy. PowerPoint presentations should be turned in as a printout of the slides -- also, if there is time, you can present the PowerPoint to me during office hours, but it must be before the deadline. For PowerPoint printouts, black and white, reduced sized, images are fine, as long as they are readable.

The suggested project involves obtaining data from the web, exploring the data, asking and answering questions with statistics, then communicating the results in a compelling way. In addition to working with data, there can also be independent study, library research, interviews of statisticians, etc. Part of your project could be learning a software tool useful for statistics or data science. If you want to collect your own data, (I actually discourage this), you MUST do it in a scientifically acceptable way.

If these projects sound like a lot of work, they can be, but remember that they are optional and extra credit. You will get some credit for anything you do along these lines, and anything you do will help you.

If you are thinking of doing a project, please work with me to decide on a project topic. We will also brainstorm ideas in class. Pick a topic and a project that excites you. Your project should relate to your passions, goals, dreams and/or interests. My idea is that you will really want to do this project which is why I am giving you a lot of freedom to design it.

Suggested topics (actually, whatever interests you): sports (of various kinds, there are lots of free good data on baseball), entertainment, movies (again good data), law, criminology, government, city planning, architecture, weather, climate, geology, seismology, medicine, epidemiology, health, fitness, biology, evolution, extinction, ecology, math, computer science, statistics, data science, anthropology, ethnic studies, gender studies, history, sociology, culture, tourism, archeology, art, literature, writing, journalism, census, linguistics, finance, economics, business, astronomy, physics, chemistry, library sciences, theology, anything else you can think of.

Curated data sets exist for many of these topics, although some cost money. For curated data sets, free or otherwise, you just download them, although sometimes you have to do more work to get the data into a usable format.

A more advanced technique is to use a "web scraper" which masquerades as a browser and pulls data directly from the web. One student was successful at doing this last Spring (she used a website dedicated to this effort). Some websites have their own Application Programming Interfaces (API) which facilitate this process (examples: twitter, facebook, linked in). These more advanced techniques may be difficult, and often involve computer programming. I am a computer programmer, but I do not have a lot of experience with web scraping. That said, I have a lot of books on the subject and would love to learn how. If you are interested, let's try it together during office hours.

Last Spring, I gave some students extensive help on their projects. Help does not count against you, even extensive help. Many other students did not ask for help, and that is OK, too. Of course, some students chose to not even do a project, which was also fine. (If you don't do a project, you won't get any extra credit, but it won't count against you, either). Anything you choose is fine with me, but if you want help, ask early and come to office hours in the beginning, and all throughout the semester. Things can get busy toward the end, both for you and for me. Starting early will also give you more time, and you will need time to do these projects well. You can also get help from other sources (family, friends, other professors, etc), but you must disclose the help you receive in writing in an "acknowledgements" section, when you turn it in. That said, I encourage you to get help, if you need or want it, as long as you do not take credit for others' work. Along these same lines, cite your sources. You must also cite the source(s) of your data.

Project proposals are due July 5. Progress reports are due July 18. Final project submissions are due August 4. Final projects must have an addendum titled "behind the scenes" which describes how you did the project and where you got your data. Optional sections could include "dead-ends" and "dreams for the future" for which you will get credit for things that did not work, or good ideas you had which you did not have time to implement. Creativity will be rewarded!

Grades will be awarded as percentage points added to your final score. Typically, this will be up to 3 percentage points. However, last Spring, there were several truly exceptional students who went above and beyond, and I gave them 4 additional percentage points. The separation between grades is 3-4 points (the scale I usually use is 93% gets an A, 90% gets an A-, 87% gets a B+, 83% gets a B, etc.) so doing well on your project will probably raise your final grade by one mark. A score of 4 points could conceivably raise your grade by two marks, and even a score of 1 point or less could still raise your grade by one mark, if you are close to the boundary.

I plan to give grades this summer consistent with the grades I gave the last Spring. In other words, I won't make any accommodations for the fact that you only have 6 weeks, instead of 15. Please understand that doing a truly outstanding project in 6 weeks on top of successfully completing everything else on the statistics curriculum would be a colossal challenge. But again, remember, these projects are optional and extra credit, and some extra credit is still given to less than outstanding projects. And again, anything you do helps.

Tentative grading scheme:

Attendance and Participation 15%
Homework 15%
Midterm Exam 35%
Project EXTRA
Final 35%

Class Etiquette: Please give the class your full attention and refrain from talking during lectures, texting, surfing the web, and similar distractions. If you need to attend to something urgently, it is OK to excuse yourself from the classroom.

Please participate in class by asking questions when you do not understand something. Invariably other students benefit from these questions. Please engage in discussions, and please engage with the class, generally.

Academic Integrity: Cheating is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Consider this: in subtle ways, cheating to get a better grade on an exam can result in lowering the grades of some of your classmates. Certainly this is true when a specific curve is used to assign grades. Even when I don't use curves explicitly, they can be implicit in decisions about writing and grading exams. As required by the policy of American University, I will report all suspected cases of cheating to the Dean's office who will proceed to investigate and adjudicate the issues. Cheating is giving or receiving unauthorized assistance on exams, from other students or other people, from notes, from books, or from the web. When inappropriate copying between students is caught, both parties may be culpable.

Homework, Attendance and Participation Policy: Usually I award a maximum of 10 points for each homework set. The due date for homework is technically the end of class, one week after it is assigned, however you should make every effort to complete each assignment as soon as possible. You can turn in homework anytime, up to Wednesday, August 3. Homework turned in after the technical due date will receive a maximum of only 5 points. I plan to post deadlines on this website.

I like to give the solutions to homework problems at the same time I assign the problems. Conscientious students, who wrestle with problems before looking at the answers, benefit from having instant feedback about their solutions, right, wrong, or incomplete. Less conscientious students who use the answers to easily complete the assignments often do poorly on exams. The responsibility for your education rests in your own hands. Don't be one of the outliers who use shortcuts to avoid preparing for the exams. Concerning homework, you are encouraged to work with your classmates, if you find that helpful. In fact, you are encouraged to do whatever you find most helpful with the homework, but by turning in a solution to a problem, you pledge that you understand the solution, or that you talked to me in office hours or during or after class and made a good faith effort to understand how to do the problem. If it looks like you got the full benefit from the assignment, and if you turn it in by the due date, I will award you a perfect 10 points. I may mark you down if it seems that you have copied the answers without including any of the required calculations. You must include your work.

Additionally, I award 5 points per day for class attendance. Absences will be excused if you have a compelling reason why you can't make it to class. Absences on exam days (July 14 and August 4) must be excused through the Dean of Students. For absences on other days, please email me ahead of time, if possible. I plan to post grades to Blackboard, promptly.

Public Service Announcement: A representative of AU's Students Against Sexual Violence (SASV) approached me and asked me to include on my syllabi a list of resources available for survivors of sexual assault and their friends. While sexual violence is by no means the only challenge faced by students, I agree that this issue merits particular attention, so I am honoring her request by attaching the list she gave me:

Sexual Assault Resources

  • It’s never the survivor’s fault. There are many people you can talk to if you or someone you care about has been sexually assaulted:
  • AU's Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator Daniel Rappaport (
  • AU's Coordinator for Victim Advocacy Sara Yzaguirre (
  • DC SANE Program (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) 1-800-641-4028
  • The only hospital in DC area that gives Physical Evidence Recover Kits (rape kits) is Medstar Washington Hospital
  • DC Rape Crisis Center: 202-333-7273
  • Students found responsible for sexual misconduct can be sanctioned with penalties that include suspension or expulsion from American University, and they may be subject to criminal charges
  • If you want to submit a formal complaint against someone who has sexually assaulted you, harassed you, or discriminated against you based on your gender identity or sexual orientation, you can do so online at, or contact the Dean of Students at or 202-885-3300. These are Title IX violations, and universities are legally required to prohibit these actions.
  • Resources on campus that are required to keep what you tell them confidential are Daniel Rappaport, Sara Yzaguirre, ordained chaplains in Kay, and counselors at the counseling center. (OASIS may also belong here but it didn't exist when this list was created.)