Basics of Descriptive and Inferential Statistics   STAT 1380

WELCOME!  ˇBIENVENIDOS!              Monday, August 22, 2005


Description  from the Undergraduate Catalog:  “A course in statistical literacy.  Emphasis will be on standard descriptive measures of location, spread, and association.  Regression, probability and sampling, and binomial distribution.  Interpretation of data which occur in daily life (polls, weather forecasting, surveys, quality control, etc.) will be stressed.” Prerequisite: Math 1320, 1409, 1508 or equivalent.


This course will expose you to typical intro topics but with particular emphasis on and grounding in conceptual understanding and statistical literacy in real life.  You deserve, need and will be offered more than a plug-and-chug, memorize-the-recipes experience!

You will be able to critically evaluate statistics commonly found in the media and in your major field. You will become acquainted with what is involved in the collection, interpretation, and communication of real-world data to explore questions of interest.  You will gain probability and statistics background that will help you answer questions on the TExES standardized test for teachers.


Meetings:  each M & W in our LART classroom unless otherwise announced (e.g., we have an important lab day reserved in UGLC on Nov. 23)


Instructor:  Assoc. Prof. Dr. Larry Lesser (rhymes with “professor”, spelled like “<”)   

I began teaching university courses (especially statistics!) in 1988, and I’ve also worked as a state agency statistician and as a full-time high school teacher & department chair!  More info and resources at:   (FYI:  From there, click on “SCHEDULE” and you can access the syllabus if you ever lose this one)


How to reach me:  my official Bell Hall 213 office hours will be finalized, announced and posted this week; I’m also usually available during intra-class “break times” and for a few minutes right after class and by appointment; changes will be announced and posted;

also, feel free to ask me (or leave me) questions by phone (747-6845; “SIR-OUIJA”)

or email (Lesser (at)  It’s both my job and privilege to serve you and to provide guidance. 

other helpful resources include:  UTEP Tutoring and Learning Center 747-5366

Textbook:  Jessica UttsSeeing Through Statistics (3rd ed.; 2005) Duxbury Press.

Subject to change based on timing, resources and interest, we plan to uncover (in order):  chapters 1-11, 16, 20, 22.  The instructor will provide some supplementary material via handouts that you will also be responsible for on topics such as simulation, sample space, counting rules, the binomial distribution, and the geometric distribution.   You are expected to thoughtfully read (read for a math class?  what a concept!) each chapter before the appropriate class meeting and to bring your book to each class.  Here are textbook homework problems you are expected to do (which will be frequently be assessed via quizzes and/or collection during class):

Ch. 1 (1, 3-5, 7,9,10,15,17,19); Ch. 2( 6,7,11,14,15), Ch. 3 (1-9,13,16,18-20,24,25a,26a), Ch. 4 (1,2,4-6,9,11,12,15,17,21,24,26), Ch. 5(1-3,5,8-10,12,17,19,20,22,25a,27), Ch. 6, Ch.7 (1-7, 9,12-16,19,21,25,28), Ch. 8(2-5,7,8,11,13,17,19,21,22,25), Ch.9(1,2,5,7,8b,9,14), Ch.10(1,2,4,5,7-10,11a,12,13), Ch.11(1-6,8-10,12,14,17,19), Ch.16(1-3,6-12,17,18,20d,25), Ch. 20(3,4,5ab,6,14,17), Ch. 22(11-17).


Grades:  determined by the usual cutoffs of 90, 80, 70, 60, based on these parts:

15% Quizzes (usually unannounced on a recent assigned reading or HW)

30% Tests (2 or 3, each announced at least a week in advance; I’ll guess that the

dates will be Sept. 21, Oct. 19, and Nov. 14, but this is subject to change) 

20% Project(s)

35% Cumulative Final Exam:  as scheduled by UTEP for Wed., Dec. 7

(on exams, you’ll be provided formulas from the textbook, but without annotation)


Technology:  Bring calculator to each class.  You’ll be allowed to use a calculator on quizzes and tests, but will still have to be prepared to “show your work” so that I can see your process and understanding and what you punched into the calculator.  Example:  when finding the mean of the numbers 1, 5, 6 you can’t just say “4”, but need to write out  (1 + 5 + 6)/3 = 4.  As logistics and interest allows, I will facilitate in-class demonstrations or explorations to expose you to how statistics are computed in the real world with technology such as Internet applets, a graphing calculator, and software (e.g., Excel).


Academic Integrity:  As teachers, I trust you especially appreciate that cheating, plagiarism and collusion in dishonest activities are serious acts which erode the university’s purpose and integrity and cheapen the learning experience for us all.  This is also particularly crucial given the ethical challenges statistics presents to those who are tempted to “make the numbers say what they want them to say.”  It is expected that work you submit will represent your own effort (or your own group’s effort, if it is a group project) and will not involve copying from or accessing unauthorized people or resources.  Violations are unacceptable and will be referred to the Dean of Students Office for possible disciplinary action.  Don’t resubmit work completed for other classes without specific acknowledgment and permission from me. 

For Group Work:  Within a group, members are allowed to divide up subsets of the project for which individuals will take the initial responsibility for coordinating efforts, but it is assumed that by the time a group turns in a writeup that all members have read and understand all parts of what is being turned in.  Group members may even discuss general ideas and strategies with members of other groups, but NOT share parts of actual written work.  At a minimum, to be safe, put away all written notes and writing materials and recording devices before having any intergroup conversations.  And if you still see a “gray area”, play it safe and ask the instructor!


Attendance:  Attendance is taken and required, and is very important considering that much of this course involves beyond-the-book group activities or discussions that are virtually impossible to recreate on one’s own.  The instructor may count tardiness or early departure as a half-absence or even a full absence, depending on what is missed.  If you miss an exam without a documented strong excuse relayed to me at the earliest opportunity, the score will be a 0. In general (out of fairness and logistics), late work will not be accepted, and may be subject to a penalty in the rare cases that it is accepted. 

If you’ll be missing a regular class just once or twice, you don’t need to tell me, but it’s your responsibility to:

(1) have a classmate (pick a couple of study buddies NOW if you need to) give you copies of notes, handouts and announcements,       AND

(2) let me know by email (Lesser (at) or voicemail (747-6845) or daytime math dept. fax (747-6502) at the earliest opportunity, especially if the absence might be “excused” or if you have a situation which may affect a test or multiple class meetings.   Give me a written note or email by the 15th day of the semester (Sept. 12) if you will have absence for religious holy days (which are excused, of course).   As the UTEP Catalog says, “When in the judgment of the instructor, a student has been absent to such a degree as to impair his or her status relative to credit for the course, the instructor may drop the student from the class with a grade of “W” before the course drop deadline [Oct. 28] and with a grade of “F” after the course drop deadline.”  (In practical terms, this will certainly mean a student may be dropped for 3 unexcused absences or for a total of 6 absences of any kind, considering our class has only 29 regular meetings!)  On a positive note, a strong record of attendance will be taken into account if your final average is a few tenths of a point shy of a letter grade cutoff.


Professionalism:   Professional courtesy and a positive, collaborative attitude are required in this course (this includes using discretion regarding cell phones and beepers during class time).  Be open to using or sharing opportunities for professional growth beyond this class.  I expect to learn from you, too!  (By the way, please encourage K-12 students you know to enter the ASA Poster or Project Competitions by April 15:


Disabilities: If you have or believe you have a disability that will require accommoda-tions or modifications, you may wish to self-identify by contacting the Disabled Student Services Office (DSSO; 747-5148; East Union Building room 108;; to show documentation or register for testing and services.  DSSO will ask you to discuss needed accommodations with me within the first 2 weeks of the semester or as soon as disability is known, and at least 5 working days before an exam.  DSSO provides note taking, sign language, interpreter, reader and/or scribe services, priority registration, adaptive technology, diagnostic testing for learning disabilities, assistance with learning strategies/tutoring, alternative testing location and format, and advocacy.  All information provided to DSSO is kept strictly confidential.