The Course

Introduction to the Course | Course Design | Competence Statement | Grades Exams | Group Project | Homework and Group Work

A major priority in the design of this course is the engagement of students as scientists and citizens. This is accomplished through the variety of techniques described below.

Course Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 410kB Nov7 08)

Introduction to the Course

On a daily basis, we receive information connected to statistical data on subjects ranging from politics, health care, finance and education. An understanding of the discipline of Statistics may be one of the most beneficial tools that an informed citizen can possess. It is extremely important for citizens in today's society to be able to properly evaluate data and the claims made with that data. With the proper tools from statistics, people are able to make informed decisions. Those decisions may relate to the natural sciences, the social sciences, medicine, business or even every day life situations.

Statistics is a mathematical science pertaining to the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. It is applicable to a wide variety of academic disciplines, from the physical and social sciences to the humanities. It is also used and misused for making decisions in all areas of business, health and government. Statistical methods can be used to summarize or describe a collection of data; this is called descriptive statistics. Inferential statistics is used to make conclusions about a general population based on data from a sample of the population. In this course, we will learn the basics of both descriptive and inferential statistics and examine how an understanding of these can lead to being a more informed and involved citizen.

Course Design

In the spring of 2007, each section of Statistics I With Community-Based Projects was taught in a traditional classroom of 32 students, one day per week in a three hour and 20 minute block of time. This is the format that courses are taught at Metropolitan State University in order to best serve our non-traditional working students. During the fall semester of 2007, Statistics I With Community-Based Projects was taught in an alternate format of two times per week for a one hour and forty minute block of time. This format was much more successful for the students in that it gave them more weekly contact with their group members and also with the instructor.

During the semester, many alternate methods of teaching were used in the classroom, including in-class group work, discussion projects and discussion of current events found in the students free subscription to the online version of the New York Times. Although students were not required to bring in articles from the newspaper to each class meeting, there were many students who came prepared to discuss articles that they had read in the New York Times and the local newspapers, the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune. One student who was majoring in nursing, frequently shared articles from nursing journals that she was required to read for one of her nursing courses.

Discussion projects were given to students after a concept had just been introduced. They were meant to provoke the students into conversation about the concept that they had just learned but also into discussions about social issues. These discussions typically would last only 5 to 10 minutes (two examples of discussion projects follow). In-class group work was much longer in length and deeper in content. A typical group work would take the class 40 to 50 minutes to complete.

Examples of Two Discussion Projects (Acrobat (PDF) 40kB Nov7 08)

Competence Statement

A student who successfully completes this course will know the principles and methods of statistics used in the description and analysis of data, including collection of data, design of experiments, sampling, correlation, regression, confidence intervals, and significance tests.


Your final grade will be based on the following:

Exam I - 20%
Exam II - 20%
Exam III - 20%
Group Project - 25%
Group Work - 15%

You will be guaranteed an:
A if you earn at least 90%of the total points
Bif you earn at least 80%of the total points
Cif you earn at lease 70% of the total points
Dif you earn at least 60%of the total points
F if you earn less than 60% of the total points


There will be 3 exams. All exams will be closed book; however, you will be allowed to use both sides of one 8 1/2 x 11 page of notes for each exam. Make up exams will be given only to students who have contacted me prior to the exam time and have a legitimate excuse for missing the exam.

Group Project

This course is developed with the same goals as the standard STAT 201 course but with an emphasis on preparing students to play active roles in addressing the problems and challenges of the larger society and world in which they live, using statistics as a tool. This is done through semester-long group projects involving social issues. You will work in groups of 2, 3 or 4 students on a topic of your choice. The end result will be a written report and oral report of your statistical findings and a plan to disseminate the results to a wider audience.

To aid your group in communicating about the project, a Desire2Learn course web site will be created where you can communicate within your group, with the instructor or with other classmates.

Group Project Information and Forms (Acrobat (PDF) 81kB Nov7 08)

Homework and Group Work

The tentative schedule for homework is given below. Homework will notbe collected. However, I strongly encourage you to work together in groups on the homework assignments and to write up each assignment in a professional manner. I will answer questions on the homework via email, phone, during office hours and at the beginning of class.

My courses require your active participation. One way to participate in class is through group work. You will work in groups of 3 or 4 students during class time. Each student will hand in an individual write-up of the assignment at the end of the activity. I will collect the assignment, grade each one individually and then return them at our next class meeting. Because of their nature, there will be no make-ups.