Introduction to Statistics
What it is we will be studying
Statistics used to be reserved for advanced studies, exclusively a college course, and usually with a programming prerequisite. Now, the technological tools and staggering interest in the Statistics AP course has made Stats a common high school course - and with good reason! In this Age of Data, the use and understanding of basic statistical methods is essentially to being an informed consumer of media today. Very few decisions are made that don't depend at least in some small way on statistics.
In this course we will focus on the main statistical concepts and tools - visual displays of data (how to do them well, how they are often done terribly), numerical descriptions of data, the use of the normal curve to assess whether an observation is unusual or not, leading to introductory tests of statistical inference, or decision-making.
What to expect in class.
In the classroom, what students will experience is an environment focused on them. The content and ideas are developed from the work rather than presented by the teacher, whose role is to facilitate and guide as opposed to lecturing and disseminating. Collaboration between students is a core value as well as improving communication of ideas - both defending your own and challenging (respectfully) those of others.
This emphasis on the students is based on learning research supporting higher levels of interaction for higher gains in conceptual understanding. The skills involved with statistics don't get much more complicated than multiplication and square roots. In fact, by the end most of the computation will be done with technology. Most statistical tests and processes can be run with almost no statistical knowledge - it is the interpretation of the results and an understanding of appropriate use of tools that is essential, and to reach this level of understanding you would do well to talk and interact with your classmates and myself as much as possible. Engage as much of your brain as you can with the ideas - push them around, pull them apart, test them against gut-checks and assumptions. Waiting and watching for the answer to be put in a box at the bottom of the boardwork will not get you very far in this course.
Grading will be aligned with a list of specific Learning Objectives. Creating and utilizing this list of standards is an active and ongoing process. You and I will keep track of your progress in these Learning Objectives - you through the Student Learning Worksheet, and me through a grading spreadsheet and Aspen.
Where to go for help.
In class, I will often first direct you to consult with your classmates - I will be a last resort for answers. However, should you need more help with the material, do come after school and that is when I can be more direct with the instructional style. I am usually available for at least 30 minutes every day, but I am hosting "office hours" on Mondays and Tuesdays. The best policy is to let me know you're planning on coming and I can not only be prepared for you, we can immediately clear up any conflicts in each of our schedules.
If any issues come up for you at all - be they confusion on an assignment or just to let me know of some other difficultly, please send me an email. I am often able to respond and that alone is often helpful. If you know ahead of time you are going to have trouble completing an assignment, let me know that by email too.