Basics of Descriptive and Inferential Statistics   STAT 1380-005 (CRN 13166)

  August 25, 2008     ¡BIENVENIDOS (WELCOME)!      fall 2008 term

Credit Hours: 3-0    Course Fee: N/A

Description from 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 1319, 1320, 1508 or equivalent or TCCN Math 1314.


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’ll be able to critically evaluate statistics commonly found in the media and in your major field. You’ll become acquainted with what is involved in the collection, interpretation, and communication of real-world data to explore questions of interest – like statistics related to Presidential elections!  You’ll gain background that will help you answer probability and statistics questions on the TExES/ExCET (, teach students the probability/statistics TEKS (, and make appropriate connections to the NCTM Standards (,   PreK-8 Curriculum Focal Points (, and the GAISE PreK-12 Curriculum Framework (


Meetings: MW 1:30-2:50pm LART 203 403, except Sept. 1


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!  More info at my homepage:   (FYI:  From there, click “SCHEDULE” and you can access the syllabus if you ever lose this one and browse its links!)


How to reach me:  my official Bell Hall 213 office hours will start off as MW 3-3:30, MW 4:30-4:55 and by appointment, with changes to be announced/posted;

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

or email (Lesser (at); when you email, please include a meaningful subject line).  It’s both my job and privilege to serve you and to provide guidance. 


Textbook (required):  Jessica UttsSeeing Through Statistics (3rd ed.; 2005) Duxbury Press. Subject to change based on timing, resources and interest, here’s the main material we plan to (un)cover:  chapters 1-11 then 16.  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 read each chapter and do the selected HW problems for that chapter (see below) before the class meeting we discuss that chapter (so that you are able to understand more and offer more) and to bring your book to each class.  Here are exercises to do (which will often be assessed by quiz):

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).


Technology:  BRING CALCULATOR TO EACH CLASS because you’ll be allowed to use it on virtually all activities and assessments (but it really has to be a separate calculator, though, because you aren’t allowed to use devices such as a laptop or cell phone on tests).  You’ll still have to write out enough of your work so I can follow your process. Example:  when finding the mean of {1, 3, 5}, don’t just say “3”, but write out (1 + 3 + 5)/3 = 3.  I will often demonstrate things with a TI-73/83/84 graphing calculator, but if you don’t already own one, you can certainly get by with a scientific calculator or even a simple calculator that can do basic arithmetic such as square roots.  There are websites to help you get the most out of whatever your calculator is, such as:  As logistics and interest allow, I’ll facilitate explorations to expose you to how statistics are computed with web applets, graphing calculator, software (Excel or Minitab), etc.


Grades:  after any rescaling needed for all components to be on the 0-100 scale, the grade is determined by the usual cutoffs of 90, 80, 70, 60, based on these parts:

  7% Written Reflection(s) – details will be provided in advance

13% Quizzes (often unannounced on recent assigned reading or HW, so be prepared)

24% Test #1  tentatively set for Oct. 1; see comment for “Test #2”

24% Test #2  tentatively set for Nov. 17; at least a week or two in advance, I’ll confirm

the exact material covered and the date; on tests, you’ll be provided formulas that are in the textbook, but without annotation

32% Project – project writeup (12-point Times New Roman double-spaced, APA style, checked for spelling/grammar; aim for 5-10 pages, not counting bibliography or appendices) will be due (and you must be prepared to give a short oral presentation) during the time UTEP has scheduled for our “final exam” meeting (Wed., Dec. 10,

4-6:45). If you have a pre-approved reason not to be able to present during this time, you will need to arrange with me as soon as possible to turn in and present your project earlier.  Have any appropriate output/graphics electronically pasted into the document.  Sections should be clearly marked, assembled in order, and stapled (not put into a folder or sleeve) with an identification coverpage on top (that includes your name, section, date, and a title that makes clear which option you chose and what your topic/theme was). Three different options for your project are listed at the end of this syllabus.


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.  (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), will not involve copying from or accessing unauthorized people or resources, and will provide complete bibliographic citations in APA style of any allowable references (including people, print sources and webpages) that you do consult.  Don’t resubmit work done for other classes without specific acknowledgment and permission from me.  Violations of the UTEP policy ( may lead to disciplinary action from the Dean of Students Office. 

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 required, and is very important considering that much of this course involves beyond-the-book group activities or discussions that are 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.  With quizzes, I generally will count only the top n-1 or n-2 out of the n we have, so if you miss one of the days where we have a quiz, you won’t get a 0 quiz score, it will simply be not counted.  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.   A makeup exam is possible ONLY if it is taken at the earliest opportunity and ONLY if missing the scheduled class exam date was unavoidable for a very serious reason and verifiable third-party written documentation (e.g., something like a doctor’s note) was relayed to me by fax or by email within 24 hours or the earliest (medically) possible opportunity (whichever is sooner); otherwise the exam score will be a 0.

It’s your responsibility to….

(1) Sign the attendance sheet each day you attend

(2) Let me know by email ( or voicemail (747-6845) or daytime math dept. fax (747-6502) at the earliest opportunity if you have a situation which may affect a test, major assessment deadline, or multiple regular class meetings.  

(3) Give me a written note or email by the 15th day of the semester (Mon, Sept. 15) if you will have absence for religious holy days (which are excused, of course).  

(4) Give me a written note or email at the earliest opportunity if you are or may be called to military service and/or training during the course of the semester.

(5) Have a classmate give you copies of notes, handouts and announcements if you miss a class; write down at least 2 classmates’ contact information right here for this purpose:


classmate #1 name_____________________ phone_____________ email____________


classmate #2 name_____________________ phone_____________ email____________


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 [October 31] and with a grade of “F” after the course drop deadline.”  (In practical terms, this will certainly mean a student may be dropped for more than 4 absences (unless there has been a reason I have approved), considering our class has no more than 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 below a letter grade cutoff.


Professionalism and Civility:   Along with basic standards of civility and citizenship (e.g., “Student Conduct” and “Disruptive Acts Policy” in the UTEP Catalog), students in this course are required to exhibit professionalism and to support a constructive, collegial, collaborative classroom culture where critique is focused respectfully on the intellectual merit of a position, not on the person expressing it.  You are also expected to use great discretion with cell phones and pagers during class time—if you are truly expecting an urgent call, please let me know and sit near the door to minimize disruption (and have your phone on “vibrate” instead of loud music, and have it handy so you don’t have to dig through a backpack for it).  Or you could give your family member or child care provider the phone number for an academic office or lab (e.g., LACIT 405: 747-5375) near our classroom.   That way, you can keep your phone off during class, knowing that staff can quickly get you for a true emergency.

Finally, be open to opportunities for further sharing and professional growth.  For example, consider attending or helping with the COE ABC conference September 27 (, the annual GEPCTM fall conference (Oct. 18 at EPCC Transmountain;, the UTEP COE annual fall research symposium (in Nov.), the COE’s BEEMS conference (in March), the COE Summer Research Conference (in July).  Also, encourage K-12 students to enter the ASA Poster Competitions (by April 1):  And consider joining (at affordable student rates!) math ed professional organizations at the local (GEPCTM), state (TCTM), or national levels (NCTM or ASA).


Disabilities: If you have or believe you have a disability that will require accommodations or modifications, you may wish to self-identify by contacting the Disabled Student Services Office (DSSO; 747-5148; East Union Building room 106;; 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.  You are responsible for making sure I receive any DSS accommodation letters and instructions.  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.  Information provided to DSSO is kept confidential.


English Language Learners:  I want to be responsive to the learning needs of all of my students, including those whose native or strongest language is not English.  To this end, I use recommendations from the literature, including multiple representations, connections to etymology and everyday language, advance organizers, real-world and cultural connections, and group work.  Please let me know if you think of additional ways I might support your learning and feel free to ask for a pause so that I (or a classmate) can clarify question wording or rephrase or illustrate important ideas in class discussion that go by quickly.   (Think of class as a basketball game where each class has an allotment of 1-minute or 20-second “timeouts” for this purpose.) 

And even if you are not an ELL, you will almost surely be teaching some students who are, so you should take note of these strategies to adapt into your own teaching, and read papers such as and  Other resources include foreign language statistics glossaries (e.g., or, Texas’ English language proficiency standards (, and Project LEAP-UP Coordinator Antonio Del Campo (EDB 406; 747-6363; This course aims to integrate English Language Proficiency Standards for English Language Learners in order to provide strategies for language acquisition and academic success in all content areas for students at different levels (beginning, intermediate, advanced, and advanced high) in the domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing.  

Note which statistics terms (e.g., nominal) are “cognates” in Spanish and what words may be more challenging because they have different meanings between English and Spanish and/or between statistics/mathematics and the everyday world.  Also, keep in mind ways to support learning the content involving diverse communication modalities:  listening, reading, writing, and speaking.  (I offer some communication tips at and And finally, consider that the grade level readability of any subject’s curriculum you use is from a statistical model based on average number of syllables per word and average number of words per sentence.  (See “Display readability statistics” in MS Word Help)

Note:  I gratefully acknowledge that development of this class is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Education-funded grant (PI: J. Tinajero) Project LEAP-UP: Learning, Encouraging, and Planning to Uplift Performance:


Equity and Service Learning Resources that can connect to this course:

Note:  I gratefully acknowledge that development of this class was supported in part by Project ACE (PI: J. Tinajero), funded by the Women’s Education Equity Act of the U.S. Department of Education, and many statistics examples we will discuss involve or are applicable to gender equity.  A great gender equity resource person is Project ACE coordinator Estella Vallès (EDB 206, 747-6368, and she always appreciates volunteers for Project ACE events (e.g., mother-daughter/father-son program).

UTEP’s Project ACE (ACtion for Equity):

UTEP’s Center for Civic Engagement

UTEP’s Women’s Resource Center:

Other related resources:

Also, note that the worlds largest math teacher organization declared this school year to have a major focus on equity (

and has resources (e.g., specific to elementary school.


Statistics Resources: (Please let me know of others you find that I may not know about) 

Website for our textbook:

Applets/virtual manipulatives: (click “probability” or “statistics”)

    and some examples at

FAPP applets for simple random sample, normal curve, correlation and regression, probability

Calculation pages:

Classroom connections:  (e.g., check out issue #64)  

Also, I’ve put some statistics books with other conceptual intuition or real-world connections on reserve at the UTEP Library circulation desk under “Lesser” or “Stat 1380.”  And on the second floor of the Library, free walk-in tutoring is available for this course (Tutoring and Learning Center, 747-5366;


------------------Project Options (choose ONE of these three)--------------------


(1) High-quality original TEKS-based teacher-ready lesson plan utilizing data (some of which must be quantitative) to explore a question of interest (contexts involving social justice or equity are especially encouraged for exploration).  The lesson must include some statistics concepts that are in our textbook – it can’t simply be arithmetic.  You will do this as a team of 2 or 3 and there must be a single writeup submitted for the entire team. Even though time constraints mean you will share only an excerpt with the class on presentation day, the writeup you give me must include the following IN THIS ORDER:

Title of the Lesson (should be a meaningful title that makes clear the main point)

Number and length of Class Periods for this Lesson/Unit

Grade Level or Course that is targeted
Objectives (What students should be able to do or demonstrate by the time the lesson is done)

What levels of Bloom’s taxonomy are in this lesson and where in the lesson they occur

Specific content misconceptions that your students might have and how you will address those

How and where this connects to TEKS (citing section # and verbal summary of relevant part(s)

How and where this connects to the NCTM Standards

How and where this connects to the NCTM Curriculum Focal Points

How and where this connects to the K-12 GAISE Guidelines (see Framework Table 1; describe

which Process Components are involved in your lesson and describe any parts of your lesson that may be aimed to go beyond Level A)

How your lesson will include accommodations for learners at each level (beginning,

intermediate, advanced, advanced high) with respect to listening, speaking, reading and writing, as described in Texas’ English Language Proficiency Standards

              Other accommodations or adaptations for students with diverse learning styles or learning


If possible, state how this connects to the curriculum or scope & sequence used by a school district

in El Paso

Prerequisite experiences/knowledge/reading
Materials (manipulatives/technology/A-V, etc.) needed
Outline of instructional activities (if this is a multi-day unit, break it down day-by-day)
Opening activity/vignette
How groups will be formed and structured (if group work will be used)

Classwork or Homework assignment
Closing activity
Extra activity/extension, if time remains

Assessment (How you will know if objectives were accomplished; include the actual assessment

item you would use and a rubric for grading/scoring)
References (while the lesson must be mostly your own ideas, if part of it does include your

adaptation of a particular published source or idea from a colleague, you must cite it fully in APA style)


(2) Data collection and analysis involving at least 2 categorical and at least 2 measurement variables on a topic of interest.  The “data collection proposal” sheet (see must be fully approved by me BEFORE you collect any data or you get no credit. This rule is to make sure that no one attempts to do something with an inappropriate topic/design or unrealistic scope, as well as models the process that researchers have to go through before they can begin a study.  The sooner you submit your proposal form, the sooner I’ll give you ungraded feedback (usually at or by the very next class), and the more time you’ll have to do your project (or make adjustments to your proposal and resubmit it, if required).  I recommend you start thinking about it now and aim to get me your proposal form as early as possible in OCTOBER.  There should be appropriate use of technology and contexts involving social justice or equity are especially encouraged for exploration.  You will do this as a team of 2 or 3 and there must be a single writeup submitted for the entire team.   Feel free to bounce more sophisticated ideas off of me, but the most common project here will be a survey of adults (attempt to get as many as 100, so that even if some refuse to participate, you’ll still have a decent number).  You must stay within these 4 rules:

a)       Data must be collected openly and recorded in such a way that respondents cannot be identified or linked to their answers if someone were to read your report or stumble upon your files.

b)       All individuals must be informed.   For example, if you do a written questionnaire or telephone survey, you should start with something like, “Good afternoon -- my name is _______ and I’m a student in Dr. Lesser’s Stat 1380 class at UTEP.   Are you willing to participate in a 1-minute survey as part of my class project?  The survey will not be published, your participation and responses will be confidential, and your name or other identifying information will not be recorded.  Your participation is completely voluntary and you are free to withdraw at any time.  Do you have any questions?  Are you willing to participate?”

c)       In selecting people for your survey, you must avoid settings where you work and avoid choosing:  co-workers, relatives, animals, significant others, co- close friends, significant others of close friends, minors (people under the age of 18), prisoners, and representatives of any other “vulnerable” population (e.g., individuals who cannot read/understand informed consent).

d)       Your topic must avoid issues which could reasonably be expected to be highly personal, controversial or sensitive, such as sexual behavior, drug usage, or underage drinking.  But while you CANNOT ask about someone’s sensitive personal behavior (e.g., “How much beer do you drink?”), you might be able to ask about the topic from a society or current events perspective (e.g., “Do you think the drinking age in Juárez should be raised, lowered, or kept the same?”).

The first page after the coverpage should be titled “Background” and should describe the general question of interest and explain why it is significant or important to you.  There should be a statement of what population you chose (and why) and describe what random sampling procedure was used (or why one was not or could not be used and what specific things you did to help make the sample as representative as possible of the population of interest). The next page or two of the report should be titled “Results” and should include the results of your survey, with appropriate numerical and graphical summaries included. (Graphs must be appropriately drawn, sized, with axes labeled.) The next page or two of the report is titled “Discussion”, in which you make any interpretations or conclusions you can from your data, discuss any limitations of your data or method, discuss any difficulties or judgment calls you encountered and how you handled them, discuss what you might do differently next time.  The next page should be titled “References” where you acknowledge whatever help you may have obtained from any people or print references to do this project. (If you had none, then omit the References page.) The final page is called “Appendix” which should include a numerical summary or table of the data you collected.  It should be in enough detail that I could recreate a graph from it if I wanted to, but it should not have any names of people that were surveyed. 


(3) Reflection Paper that discusses your experience putting statistics knowledge into practice in the context of a designated appropriate service learning experience (i.e., Junior Achievement) as arranged by UTEP’s Center for Civic Engagement (to pursue this latter option, you should go ahead and directly contact CCE (Benedict Hall 103;; 747-7969).   Students completing this option will receive a certificate from CCE that can enhance your teaching portfolio or job application!  Even if other classmates do the same service learning project, each individual must turn in her/his own paper, because each person’s experience and perceptions will be unique.  Your grade will be based upon both the quality of the paper and the degree of completion of the service learning itself, using the formula R*(P+1)/2, where R is your grade (out of 100) on your reflection paper and P is the proportion of the service learning requirement that CCE reports to me that you completed (note:  P greater than 1 will be treated as 1 and P equal to 0 will be treated as -1).   The paper will be graded not for spelling and grammar (unless those qualities are so poor that it’s hard for me to tell what you’re trying to say), but for the quality of insight and depth of connection and reflection you have.   Below I will give you a list of questions that will help guide you as you write your paper.  In fact, I recommend that right after each training, meeting or working day of your service learning experience you should write down (e.g., in a journal) your reactions to these questions while they are fresh. 

What did you experience today?

What did you enjoy most about that experience and why?

What did you enjoy least about that experience and why?

Did the experience today teach you something new about yourself (e.g., as an underrepresented

person, as a learner, as a future teacher, as a citizen, etc.)?  If so, what?

Did the experience today teach you something about how data or statistical thinking can relate to

(or improve) the world or to the lives of people in this region?  If so, what?

Did the experience today teach you something about the way you may talk or teach about data or

statistical topics from our course when you are a classroom teacher?  If so, what?

What would you do or expect differently the next time you do this?  Why?

Then, when it’s time to write the entire paper, you will already have plenty of material to quote and synthesize as you describe the progression of your experience and understanding all the way up to your most recent thoughts.   The final paper should not only share and discuss the major insights you had by the end of the entire experience, but also give us a feel for the progression or trajectory you took to get there, but in a thematic way not as day-by-day list.

            If the lessons you teach in Junior Achievement don’t already have probability or statistics naturally in them, you will need to take some creative initiative to look for how you can bring it into a lesson (e.g., collecting data about some aspect of the lesson’s featured topic or about some aspect of assessment of the students’ activity or a class discussion of a study from a newspaper).

At the time this syllabus was written, the two times available for required training to do this option are: Mon., Sept. 15, 12:30-1:45, Library 410   OR   Fri., Sept. 19, 1:30-2:45, Benedict 205. For more information, contact CCE (Benedict Hall 103;; 747-7969). 


PROJECT ACE asks that everyone take the fall 2008 Pre-Test online.  There are 2 ways to do it:

(1) go to the Project ACE website, and choose "surveys" from the left-hand menu.  Also select the link to the IRB (consent) form at that page and print that and bring it to the instructor. 

(2) access the survey and IRB form by going to  Print out the IRB form and “thank you” page and bring it to the instructor.  You can fill in my name (Dr. Lesser) on the IRB form where it says Professor.  You sign your name where it says “research informant”.