note: From the top of, you can access this syllabus if you misplace yours, want to explore its links, or see any updates.  Syllabus is subject to change by the instructor to meet course needs, especially for disruptions such as H1N1 epidemic or unexpected big changes in class size, resources, etc.


Course Number: STAT 1380-003 (CRN#22254)  

Course Title: Basics of Descriptive and Inferential Statistics  

Credit Hours: 3

Term: Spring 2011  

Prerequisite:  adequate score on a placement examination or MATH 0311.

Course Fee:  none


Course Meetings & Location:  LART 209, MW 1:30-2:50, except March 14 & 16. There will likely be a “lab day” in April when we all meet at UGLC 202.  In the event of a major disruption (e.g., H1N1 epidemic, etc.), be prepared to maintain course progress via alternative means (e.g., phone, Elluminate, Internet, a Blackboard course shell, etc.). Also, 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. 

Office Location:  Bell Hall 213

Contact Info:             Phone:   (915) 747-6845

                        Email  Lesser (at) (please include 1380 in the subject line)


Fax: (915) 747-6502 (note: this is a math department fax, so be sure to

have my name clearly on it; be aware that staff are not available to relay faxes to me outside the math dept’s hours of M-F 8-12, 1-5

            Emergency Contact: (915) 747-5761 (during math dept office hours)

Office hours:  initial office hours are MW 12:45-1:20, 6:30-7pm M, and by appointment;

additional office hours or changes will be announced/posted later; students are also welcome to try stopping by anytime for short questions; for longer questions, students should email me several possible appointment times that would work and I will reply with which option works in my schedule; I expect to be assigned a graduate TA who can offer some hours as well


Textbook(s), Materials:

Required textbook: Jessica Utts’ Seeing 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, including supplementary probability material from 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 usually assess your keeping up with reading/exercises by giving a quiz (with or without advance notice) on the same topic.  I will give at least one class period’s advance notice for any chapters where I actually collect written homework.

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 (just read), 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).


Required technology:

·        “low-tech” clicker (the ABCD Class Response Card): see the  “Participation” section of the syllabus for instructions of how to get it

·        calculator (that can do square roots) brought to each class. 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 manage with a scientific calculator or even a simple calculator that can do basic arithmetic such as square roots.  Websites such as 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


Course Objectives (Learning Outcomes):  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.


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 (, teach related TEKS (, and make appropriate connections to the NCTM Standards ( and the GAISE PreK-12 Curriculum Framework (


Course Activities/Assignments:  Students will participate in in-class activities, demonstrations, discussions, readings, and assessments.    Assigned homework exercises from the textbook are listed previously on this syllabus where the textbook is stated.


Assessment of Course Objectives:  Assessments include written reflections, quizzes, exams, and a final project.


Course Schedule:       Census Day: Feb. 2 for UTEP (for the US, it was April 1, 2010!)

Test #1: currently set for Feb. 23, but subject to change

Turn in Data Analysis Project Proposal: March 7

Deadline to Drop with a “W”:  April 1

Test #2: currently set for April 18, but subject to change

Last Regular Class Meeting: May 4

Finals Week Meeting: Wed. May 11, 4-6:45pm (as scheduled by

UTEP registrar).  This meeting will not be a final exam, but oral presentations of the projects; 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


Grading Policy: 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 3 parts:

* Tests (23% each) 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 of the 2 tests; you must bring your own calculators (see p. 2 of the syllabus) and #2 pencils; the main emphasis of the exam is not on memorization or rote procedures, but on being able to recognize, apply,  critique, and interpret concepts in context (e.g., in newspaper articles or graphs), even if the questions have a multiple-choice format; it is recommended that you study with a partner your class notes, the textbook chapters, homework and quizzes.

* Quizzes/HW/One-page written reflections (23%): some of these will be with a partner, some will be “solo”; details will be provided in advance; no more than the top n-2 scores will count; To be sure you get credit for your written work, you need to use your full name since there are usually students in the room who have identical or similar first or last names.

* Project (31%) – see for

requirements, resources, deadlines, etc.


Makeup Policy: Much of this course involves beyond-the-book group activities, experiences or discussions that are virtually impossible to recreate or “make up”.  Successful completion of this course is intended not only to imply you have demonstrated sufficient knowledge acquisition, but also that you have been exposed to key processes, modeling, and experiences (which are especially important for future teachers). Therefore, if you are now in a situation where you expect to have frequent absences, you might consider taking this class in another section or another semester.  With quizzes, I will count no more than the top n-3 out of the n we have, so if you miss one or two days where we have a quiz, you won’t get a 0 quiz score, it will simply not be a quiz you count.   If your absence is for a serious reason for which you hand or email me written documentation (e.g., a doctor’s note) within a week of a quiz, then there is still no “makeup”, but the quiz will not count against the number you are allowed to “drop”.

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: (1) missing the scheduled class exam date was unavoidable for a serious reason that you relay to me (by email) within 24 hours or the earliest (medically) possible opportunity, even if the supporting documentation (e.g., a doctor’s note) takes up to a week to be relayed to me, and (2) you arrange with me to take the makeup exam at the earliest possible opportunity


Attendance Policy:  Attendance is required and taken each meeting using a sign-in sheet.

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. 

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) or voicemail (747-6845) or daytime math dept. fax (747-6502) at the earliest opportunity if you have a serious situation which may affect a test, major assessment deadline, or the final exam week meeting. If you need to miss 1 or 2 regular class meetings for any reason, you do NOT need to let me know or tell me why – just see (5) below.  If you will be missing a large number of regular class meetings in a row, even if no test is affected, then you should let me know.

(3) give me a written note or email by the 15th day of the semester [Feb. 7] if you will have absence for religious holy days (which are excused, of course).  

(4) give me an email or written documentation as soon as possible if you anticipate the possibility of missing large parts of class due to exceptional circumstances such as military service/training, childbirth, or competing on official UTEP athletic teams.

(5) get copies of notes, handouts and announcements from a classmate if you miss a class; write down 3 classmates’ contact information right here for this purpose:


name_____________________________ phone_____________ email______________________


name_____________________________ phone_____________ email______________________


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 1] and with a grade of “F” after the course drop deadline.”  In practical terms, this means a student is subject to being dropped for more than 4 absences (unless there has been a reason I have approved). If you choose to withdraw, I ask you to submit the formal paperwork and send me an email to let me know rather than just stop attending class and assume you will be withdrawn automatically.  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 Policy: It’s UTEP’s policy (and mine) for all suspected violations to be referred to the Dean of Students for investigation and disposition (See Section 1.3.1 of the Handbook for Operating Procedures; 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 represents 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 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, contributed to, and understand 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!  Intergroup conversations are not allowed during in-class quizzes taken as teams.


Civility Statement: You are expected to follow basic standards of courtesy (e.g., “Student Conduct” and “Disruptive Acts Policy” in the UTEP Catalog) and may be dismissed from class for blatant or sustained disruptive behavior. Your comments during classroom discussions need to focus constructively and respectfully on the intellectual merit of a position, not critiquing the person expressing it.  You should avoid 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. Laptops should not be open unless they are being used to take notes during lectures or work on course projects during group work time.  (In other words, off-task activities such as texting, Facebook, YouTube, or emailing are unacceptable because they distract and disrupt class participation.)  If you truly are 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/pager 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 is a true emergency.


Disability Statement: 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 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 to make sure I receive any DSSO instructions and accommodation letters.  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. 


Military Statement: Give me an email or written documentation as soon as possible if you anticipate the possibility of missing large parts of class due to military service.




Catalog Description: “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.”


Professionalism Statement: Beyond the previously mentioned Civility Statement, students in this course are required to exhibit professionalism that goes beyond avoiding negative behaviors.  This includes making a good faith effort in preparation for and participation in individual and collaborative class activities.  A classroom culture must be actively supported that understands that “wrong answers” are usually correct answers to a different question or valuable learning opportunities to address a common misconception. Also, be open to local opportunities for professional growth or service.  For example, future teachers may consider encouraging K-12 students to enter an ASA Project or Poster (due April 1) or  joining (at cheaper student rates!) professional organizations -- local (GEPCTM), state (TCTM), or national (NCTM, TODOS, or ASA).

Finally, start to be aware of statistics in the mass media around you, in places such as:,,,,,, etc.


Participation: Part of your daily class participation involves answering questions posed by the instructor.  These questions are ongoing assessment designed to give feedback to you as well as to the instructor.  Some questions will be answered “simultaneously and anonymously” using the research-backed, classroom-tested Ed Prather ABCD Class Response Card.  Each student is responsible for coming to each class with the ABCD Card, obtained by printing a color copy (I think Copy Mine in the Library’s basement can do it for you for 35¢; this paper card is much cheaper than buying a $35 clicker!) from (or, print a black-and-white copy and color in the rectangles using the same color scheme). 


Confidentiality: UTEP policy requires that inquiries about confidential information such as grades cannot be done over the phone, but must be from your account and accompanied by your 800 number.  If you want to know your course grade between our last meeting and when UTEP puts grades online, you will have a chance during the last week of class to give me a “secret code word” that I will post your course grade by at the bottom of my homepage if time permits.


English Language Learner (ELL) Awareness:  Many of you are/were ELLs or may soon teach them.  I will model strategies that help ELLs (and others, too!) and incorporate awareness of ELL issues and resources in probability/statistics (e.g., Section 7 of my paper in the Statistics Education Research Journal, resources at, and The English Language Proficiency Standards require language acquisition and academic success in all content areas for students at all levels (beginning, intermediate, advanced, and advanced high) in all domains (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.  (e.g., look up “readability” in MS Word Help)   Note:  Development of this class was supported in part by the US DOE grant Project LEAP-UP.


Equity Awareness: Development of this class was supported in part by US DOE grant Project ACE (ACtion for Equity) and many statistics examples we discuss involve or apply to gender equity.  Related resources at


Other Resources: 

Website for our textbook:

Applets/virtual manipulatives:  (click “probability” or “statistics”) (e.g., 5.4, 5.5, 6.6, 7.4, 7.5)

       then click “Statistical Applets”

Calculation pages:

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


UTEP Library: Also, I’ve put some statistics books with other conceptual intuition or real-world connections on reserve at the circulation desk under “Lesser” or “Stat 1380.”  And on the second floor, free walk-in tutoring is available for this course (; Library 218; 747-5366) as well as help with writing papers (Library 227; 747-5112; Writing Center (Library 227, 747-5112,  Also, see