Basics of Descriptive and Inferential Statistics   STAT 1380 (CRN#22746)   Spring 2010

  Jan.19, 2010     ¡BIENVENIDOS (WELCOME)!     Credit Hours: 3-0    Course Fee: N/A


Description (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:  adequate score on a placement examination or MATH 0311.


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.

Also, future teachers will have the chance to gain background to handle probability and statistics questions on the TExES/ExCET (http://www.texes.ets.org/prepMaterials/), teach related TEKS (www.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter111/index.html), and make appropriate connections to the NCTM Standards (http://standards.nctm.org/) and the GAISE PreK-12 Curriculum Framework (http://www.amstat.org/Education/gaise/).

Course Objectives: Students will be able to….

apply arithmetic, algebraic, geometric, higher-order thinking, and statistical methods to modeling and solving real-world situations.

Numerical and graphical summaries of one-variable and two-variable datasets are interpreted, produced, and described verbally.  We assess the reasonableness of linear models to data sets.  We assess the reasonableness of a study's conclusions based on that study's qualities (e.g., was randomization used?).

represent & evaluate basic mathematical information verbally/numerically/graphically/symbolically

Numerical and graphical summaries of one-variable and two-variable datasets are interpreted, produced, and described verbally.  

expand mathematical reasoning skills & formal logic to develop convincing mathematical arguments.

Reasoning  used to apply probability rules and to critique statistical studies (and to assess whether a claim of significance is warranted).

use appropriate technology to enhance mathematical thinking and understanding and to solve mathematical problems and judge the reasonableness of the results.

technology incorporated such as spreadsheet software, internet applets/simulations, or graphing calculators.

interpret mathematical models (formulas/graphs/tables/schematics) and draw inferences from them.

Histograms, scatterplots, boxplots, tables, regression lines, etc. are interpreted.

recognize the limitations of mathematical and statistical models.

Studies done without random selection and/or random assignment are recognized as limited.  Pitfalls and limitations of experiments (e.g., ecological validity), observational studies (e.g., no random assignment), and surveys are discussed.  Formulas such as margin of error are recognized not to apply for a volunteer sample, for example.

develop the view that mathematics is an evolving discipline, interrelated with human culture, and understand its connections to other disciplines.

Because statistics can be applied to data from virtually all disciplines, it is natural to make clear interdisciplinary connections.  Statistics and its tools are much newer field than the mathematics in "other math core classes".  The connection to human culture comes into play with the human judgments that go into writing "the best" survey question, or deciding how to handle an outlier value, etc.


Meetings: LART 210, TR 9-10:20am, except March 16, 18. In the event of a major campus-wide disruption (e.g., H1N1 epidemic, etc.), be prepared to maintain course progress via phone or Internet (possibly using a Blackboard course shell) and be sure to check your email addresses (especially your UTEP one) regularly.


Instructor: Dr. Larry Lesser (rhymes with ‘professor’, spelled like “<”). I began teaching university courses (especially stats!) in 1988 (and have been Assoc. Prof. at UTEP since 2004), and I’ve also worked as a state agency statistician and full-time high school math teacher.  More info/resources at: www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/. (FYI:  from there, click “SCHEDULE” and at the top of the page you can access this syllabus if you ever misplace yours or want to explore its links or want to see updates that get posted to it). 


How to reach me:  my Bell Hall 213 office hours will start as 10:30-11:30 TTh and by appointment with additional hours and changes to be announced/posted on my door or at http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/schedule.html; also, feel free to ask me (or leave me) questions by phone (747-6845; “SIR-OUIJA”) or email (Lesser (at) utep.edu; when you email, please include “1380” as part of the subject line). 


Textbook (required): Jessica Utts’ Seeing Through Statistics (3rd ed.) 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.  I will assess your keeping up with exercises by collecting the written homework (with advance notice) or by giving a quiz on the same topic (which may not have advance notice).

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, because you aren’t allowed to use devices such as a laptop or cell phone on tests).  You still have to write out enough work so I can follow your process. Example: to find the mean of {3, 4, 5, 5, 8}, don’t just say “5”, but write out (3 + 4 + 5 + 5 + 8)/5 = 5.  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.  Websites such as www.prenhall.com/esm/app/calc_v2/ help you get the most out of your calculator. As logistics and interest allow, I’ll expose you to how stats are computed with applets, graphing calculator, software (Excel or Minitab), etc., and resources for accessing/using these are at http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/ResearchResources.html


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:

23% Test #1 currently set for March 4, but subject to change

at least a week or two in advance, I’ll confirm the exact material covered, the date, and the major tables and (unannotated) formulas from the textbook that will be provided on each test

23% Test #2 currently set for April 6, but subject to change

23% Quizzes/HW/One-page written reflectionssome of these will be with a partner, some will

be “solo”; details will be provided in advance; the lowest couple of these will be dropped

31% Project – project writeup will be due (and you must be prepared to give a short oral presentation) during the time UTEP has scheduled for our final exam week meeting (Tues., May 11, 10-12:45). You will do this as a team of 2 or 3 with a single writeup  submitted for the entire team.  If you have a pre-approved reason not to be able to present during this time, you need to arrange with me as soon as possible to turn in and present your project earlier.  Details about the Project are at the end of this syllabus.

During the last week of class, you may give me a “secret code word” if you want me to post your semester course grade (using only that word) at the bottom of my homepage. UTEP policy requires that inquiries about confidential information such as grades cannot be done over the phone, but must be from your miners.utep.edu account and accompanied by your 800 number.


Attendance/Makeup Policy/Military Statement:  Attendance is required and taken each meeting using a sign-in sheet and is very important considering that much of this course involves beyond-the-book group activities or discussions that are virtually impossible to recreate.  The instructor may count late arrival, early departure, or blatant nonparticipation 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 borderline cases that it is accepted at the instructor’s discretion.   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 serious reason (verifiable by documentation like a doctor’s note) that was relayed to me (preferably by email) within 24 hours or the earliest (medically) possible opportunity; otherwise the exam score will be a 0.

It’s your responsibility to….

(1) Sign the attendance sheet each day you attend before I pack up my materials.

(2) Let me know by email (Lesser (at) utep.edu) 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 (Feb. 8) if you will have absence for religious holy days (which are excused, of course).  

(4) Give me a written note or email as soon as possible if you anticipate the possibility of missing large parts of class due to exceptional circumstances such as military service/training or childbirth.

(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____________


classmate #3 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 [April 2] 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.  On a positive note, a strong record of attendance will be taken into account if your final average is a point below a letter grade cutoff.


Academic Integrity: It’s UTEP’s policy (and mine) for all suspected violations to be referred to the Dean of Students for investigation and appropriate disposition (See Section 1.3.1 of the Handbook for Operating Procedures; http://academics.utep.edu/Default.aspx?tabid=23785) 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. Don’t resubmit work completed for other classes without specific acknowledgment and permission from me.  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 resources or people (e.g., from a previous year’s class).  You must cite references that you do consult, using APA style (American Psychological Association) with complete citations even for websites and people you consult.

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, discussed, 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!


Civility and Professionalism:  Along with basic standards of courtesy (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.  (Wrong/incomplete answers are simply opportunities to learn.)

You are expected not to engage in side conversations when one person (me, or another student) is talking to the whole class. Also, do not engage in phone, email or text conversations during class. If you are truly expecting an urgent call on your cell phone or pager, please let me know and sit near the door to minimize disruption (and have your phone on “vibrate” instead of anything loud), and have it handy so you don’t have to dig through a backpack for it). Otherwise, please keep your phone off during class.  Feel free to 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 so you can rest assured that staff can quickly let you know if there ever is a true emergency.

Finally, future teachers should be open to local opportunities for professional growth or service.  For example, consider helping/attending the GEPCTM (probably March 13) conference or the UTEP SACNAS Research Expo (probably April). Also, encourage K-12 students to enter ASA Poster Competitions (due April 1). And consider joining (at cheaper student rates!) stat/math ed professional organizations at local (GEPCTM), state (TCTM), or national levels (NCTM or ASA). 


Disabilities: If you have or believe you have a disability requiring accommodations, you may wish to self-identify by contacting the Disabled Student Services Office (DSSO; 747-5148; East Union Building room 106; dss@utep.edu; www.utep.edu/dsso/) 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 DSSO instructions and letters of accommodation.  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 Learner Awareness:  I know that many of you are/were English language learners or will soon be teaching them.  Because being able to have everyday English conversation is not enough to guarantee success with technical language in a specific academic subject, I will be modeling strategies that help ELLs (and others, too!) and incorporate awareness of some issues and resources specific to the context of probability/statistics. See my paper in the current issue of Statistics Education Research Journal (especially section 7) and resources such as http://www.tsusmell.org/ (explore “Resources”), http://isi.cbs.nl/glossary/index.htm, and  


The English Language Proficiency Standards require 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. Finally, consider that the grade level readability of any subject’s textbook is from a statistical model based on average number of syllables per word, average number of words per sentence, etc.  (See “Display readability statistics” in MS Word Help)   Note:  Development of this class was 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: http://www.academics.utep.edu/leapup.


Equity Awareness:   Development of this class was supported in part by Project ACE (Action for Equity; PI: J. Tinajero; http://eduprojects.utep.edu/projectace/), funded by the Women’s Education Equity Act of the U.S. Dept. 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, elvalles@utep.edu) who appreciates volunteers for ACE events.  Related resources are at www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/equity.html.


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

Website for our textbook:  www.duxbury.com/cgi-wadsworth/course_products_wp.pl?fid=M20b&product_isbn_issn=0534394027&discipline_number=17

Applets/virtual manipulatives:

http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/activities/  (click “probability” or “statistics”)

http://standards.nctm.org/document/eexamples/index.htm (e.g., 5.4, 5.5, 6.6, 7.4, 7.5)


                http://bcs.whfreeman.com/ips4e/ then click “Statistical Applets”


Calculation pages:   http://statpages.org/

Classroom connections:

http://www.amstat.org/education/stn/  (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 in Library 218, free walk-in tutoring is available for this course (747-5366; http://academics.utep.edu/tlc).


---------------------- Project Information -----------------------------


Project Writeup should be 12-point Times New Roman double-spaced, APA style, checked for spelling/grammar. Aim for 5-10 pages, not counting bibliography or appendices.  Section headings should be clearly marked, assembled in the required 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).  


Oral presentation is a required part of the project, but is assessed in such a way so that it can only help your grade if your final average falls a point short of a letter grade cutoff.  You may find it helpful to check out some of the “tips for oral presentations”. The exact amount of time each team will have depends on how many teams there are, of course, but you should plan on having 5 minutes for your presentation followed by 1 additional minute for discussion/questions/transition.  For the presentation part, you’ll have access to the technology in the room (but make sure things are working and “ready to go” so that we aren’t sitting watching you “set up”) and any additional manipulatives or materials you bring.  Each team member must have a major non-silent role in the presentation. The very first thing to do is tell us your names. Obviously, 5 minutes is enough only for highlights, not every detail in the written writeup you’re turning in to me.  For Lesson Plan presentations, briefly “set the stage” (by telling us the intended grade level, prerequisite/previous knowledge or experience, and the trajectory of the larger lesson/unit you are excerpting from) and then go ahead and give us the chance to experience interactively a representative highlight of the lesson!  For Data Collection/Analysis projects, you should focus by telling us your choice of topic you investigated, what results you found, and then what you learned (and anything you might do differently the next time) from the project.


Project Options: Your team (of 2 or 3) will choose ONE of the following two options:


(1) Lesson plan (“teacher-ready”) for a high-quality mostly original (I don’t need to see any more bar graphs with M&M candies) TEKS-based lesson utilizing nontrivial collection, analysis, or display of 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 main focus of the lesson must include some statistics concepts that are in our textbook (but not with identical examples or context, of course) – it can’t simply be arithmetic.  For example, a lesson on fraction arithmetic itself is not acceptable, but it could work if the fraction arithmetic is part of an activity that uses pie charts or probabilities. It is preferable if you target the highest grade level you think you might one day find yourself teaching.  The project writeup you turn in will not be one long narrative essay, but will be a sequence of items (in the following order), each with a clear heading, and many of which can be addressed with just a sentence or two.  [use the online version of the syllabus to use the embedded links, etc.]  You’re not required to clear your topic with me, but you’re welcome to stop by for feedback.


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

Class Time:  Number and length of Class Periods for this Lesson/Unit

Grade:  the grade level or course that is targeted
Objectives:  What students should be able to do or demonstrate by the time the lesson is done

Bloom’s taxonomy:  Which of the six levels of [this version of] Bloom’s taxonomy are in this lesson and

where in the lesson do they occur?

Misconceptions: Specific statistics content misconceptions (e.g., false beliefs like “the mean must be one

of the data values”, some of the “difficulties and disasters” in Utts chapters 4,5,9,11 or some of the intuition pitfalls of chapters 17,18) that your students might have and how you will address those

TEKS: Explain what aspect of your lesson connects to Mathematics TEKS (citing section # and verbal

summary of relevant part(s); if it also connects to TEKS in other subject areas, note that as well

NCTM Standards: Explain what aspect of your lesson connects to what part(s) of the NCTM Standards

(be brief, but be specific; don’t just paste in entire chunks of the standards; cite the specific

bullet(s) under all relevant headings for the student expectations for the grade band you are targeting); you can get free trial access to this entire document [FYI: to go the “extra mile”, you could also look up what aspect of your lesson connects to the NCTM Curriculum Focal Points for the particular grade level in PreK-8 you are targeting; I have a copy you can see in my office]

GAISE: what parts of your lesson connect (and how) to the PreK-12 GAISE Guidelines (from Framework

Table 1, describe which of the 4 Process Components are involved in your lesson and describe any parts of your lesson that may be aimed to go beyond “Level A”)

ELPS: 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; how are you introducing any new vocabulary?

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

Prerequisites:  experiences/knowledge/reading/vocabulary that students need to have already done or had
Materials: any needed manipulatives/technology/A-V, etc.
Outline of actual instructional activities (if this is a multi-day unit, break it down day-by-day; describe  it in

a way that is ready for a teacher to use):  Opening activity; Classwork or Homework assignment; Closing activity; Extra activity/extension, if time remains

Assessment (How you will know if objectives were accomplished; include an 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 includes 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 www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/1380proposal.html) must be fully approved by me BEFORE you collect any data or you may 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 turn in your proposal form on or by March 11 (i.e., BEFORE spring break). 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 with 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 (be sure to ask a large enough sample, so that even if some refuse to participate, you’ll still have at least 50 people in the survey).  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, 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 writeup must include the following items IN THIS ORDER each with a clear heading:

The first page after the coverpage is titled “Background” and describes the general question of interest and why it is significant or important to you.  Explain what population you chose (and why).

The next page of the report should have the heading “Method” 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 part 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 part 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 is titled “References” where you acknowledge any help you obtained from any people or print references to do this project. (If you had none, then omit the References page.)

The final part is the “Appendix” which can include additional numerical or graphical summaries of your data, but should not include information that could identify anyone who was surveyed. The final page of the Appendix must be the proposal form that I signed and returned before you collected data.


If PROJECT ACE asks everyone in this class to take the fall 2010 Pre-Test online, be prepared to follow a short sequence of steps, probably something like this:  Go to http://eduprojects.utep.edu/projectace/ and choose "surveys" from the left-hand menu. Print out the “Consent Form”, fill it in (You can fill in “Dr. Lesser” on the consent form where it says “Professor.”  You sign your name where it says “research informant”)  and return it to me.  Click on the link to take the actual survey.