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Statistics and Research Methods (Psych 3101, Section 200)
M/W/F 12:00 - 12:50pm, Fall 2000
Room: FAN 141
Department of Psychology, Muenzinger
Class Web Site: `http://psych.colorado.edu/~oreilly/stats.html`

Recitation Sections (You must be registered for one of these):

Text: Gravetter, F. J. and Wallnau, L. B. (1998). Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences, Fifth Edition. Stamford, CT: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Goals: Statistics is one of the most important tools in psychology, and in most other sciences as well. It is also valuable for everyday life by enabling you to be a critical consumer of political, economic, and medical information (e.g., polls, surveys, and clinical trials) that are often based on statistical methods. In psychology, statistics enables you to tell how likely it is that something you found in an experiment is true of people in general (which is what psychologists usually want to know about). Because people's behavior is often highly variable, the results of psychological experiments are noisy. With the usual small number of participants run in a psychology experiment (typically 25-50), the noise in the data can make the results difficult to interpret just by looking at them. This is where statistics comes in -- it allows you to make solid, mathematically justified conclusions based on noisy data. This course will build up to the standard tools of statistics (t-tests, analysis of variance (ANOVA), correlation and linear regression) by first establishing a firm understanding of what noisy data looks like, and how it can be summarized by a few powerful numbers (called parameters). The emphasis is on developing a firm conceptual understanding, not on memorizing formulas. You will learn to use powerful computer software to crunch the numbers. We will also discuss how to design experiments to best get at different kinds of psychological questions (i.e., research methods).

Requirements and Details:

• You are expected to read the assigned chapters in the textbook. The lectures are designed to compliment the textbook, not duplicate it, so you will find both reading the text and attending lectures beneficial.
• There is no need to take notes in lecture -- copies of the lecture overheads are available in the bookstore. The lecture is there to stimulate your thinking, which can't happen if you are slavishly writing stuff down.
• Everything is cumulative in this class, so if you fall behind, it will just get worse and worse.
• The labs will extend the lecture and book material by showing you how to do statistics using a computer. You will also receive more personalized help with the homework in the labs. Each lab meeting will have a special extra-credit computer assignment, due by the end of lab, that will be worth 1 percentage point added to your overall homework grade. If you do all of them, you could add 14 percentage points to your homework grade! The real benefit of these assignments is that you can use the computer to do the calculations for your homeworks -- once you figure out how to work the computer, this is much easier! If you can't make it to your regularly scheduled lab, you can go to any of the other labs for that week.
• There are homework assignments for each chapter, designed to give you hands-on experience with the material. Only a minimal number of problems have been assigned for you to turn in -- you are encouraged to do more homeworks on your own to practice what you've learned! Actively practicing and applying the knowledge you learn from reading and listening to the lectures is very useful for mastering statistics. The text has the answers to all of the odd-numbered questions in Appendix C in the back, so you can select these problems for your own practice. You must show all of your work on the homeworks to receive credit -- we want to see the process you went through to arrive at the answer. This way, we can give you partial credit even if you make some computation errors.
• Homeworks are due in lab the week following the last lecture on the chapter in question (see the lecture schedule below, and a detailed schedule for your specific lab will be handed out in lab). Late homeworks will be docked 10% per week late. Only death or serious illness are reasonable excuses!
• There will be 3 midterm exams during the semester, and a final exam. The midterm exams cover specific chapters of material, and the final exam is comprehensive, covering the entire semester. There will be in-class review sessions before each test, where we will go over problems and answer questions. The TA's may also organize additional review sessions as necessary. We will give you all the equations you need for each exam, so you can focus on the conceptual issues of how to use these equations instead of memorization.
• Your life will be easier if you have a calculator, especially one that has statistical functions (, , etc).

Evaluation: Your grade will be computed based on the homeworks and exams as follows:

Special Accommodations: I encourage students with disabilities, including invisible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury and attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, to discuss with me appropriate accommodations that might be helpful. This must be done within the first 2 weeks of the semester.

Schedule:

Next: References

Randall C. O'Reilly
Mon Aug 14 16:32:17 MDT 2000