Basic and Applied Statistics

Course Information

EPSY 3264 is a 3xxx-level introduction to statistics and is not a substitute for an AP Statistics course. It can be taught over an entire high school semester or academic year.

EPSY 3264 is designed to engage students using a modeling and simulation approach to inference. Statistics is more than just an application of mathematics or a methodology used in some other discipline. Statistics is a principled way of thinking about the world. In particular, it is a principled approach to data collection, prediction, and scientific inference. In today’s dynamic and interdisciplinary world, success in confronting new analytical issues requires both substantial knowledge of a scientific or technological area and highly flexible problem-solving strategies.

This course uses pedagogical principles that are founded in research, such as daily small group activities and discussion. Upon completion of this course, students should have an understanding of the foundational concepts of data, variation, and inference, as well as an appreciation for the fundamental role that statistics plays in a host of disciplines, such as business, economics, law, and medicine.

This is not a class where students come to class each day, listen, watch, and take notes! The primary method for learning new statistical concepts and methods is by students reading the provided materials before class, participating in class activities and discussions, and working through homework assignments.

This course makes extensive use of small and large group activities and discussions to introduce ideas and content, as well as to deepen students’ understanding of material encountered in the readings. Students’ learning experience is thus dependent, to some extent, on their classmates and vice versa. Because of this, it is essential that students not only attend class each day and participate in the activities and discussions, but that they show up prepared, having completed the homework and readings assigned.

Internalizing a discipline's way of thinking about and solving problems is a time-consuming process, with the keyword being “process.” It is not something that can be taught to students in a semester or even a year-long course. Learning statistics takes much more than memorizing formulae or software commands. It requires active participation and questioning both in and out of the classroom. There are many opportunities to learn the material through class activities, readings, and homework assignments, but in the end, students will have to do all of the hard work of actually learning that material.

Student Learning Outcomes

EPSY 3264 addresses two components of the University of Minnesota’s required learning outcomes. After completing this course, students will know the basic terms, concepts, principles, methods, and perspectives of statistics and will be able to build a framework of knowledge within the major themes of the course (Component 3: Have mastered a body of knowledge and mode of inquiry.).

Students will also be able to communicate the results of a statistical analysis with others, as well as discuss both ideas and applications of the discipline with peers (Component 5: Can communicate effectively).

Other Considerations

The course can be taught over a high school semester (or two trimesters) or an entire academic year, depending on the school schedule (e.g., duration and frequency of classes) and students' preparedness.

Class size limit: 30

Sample Syllabus

U of M Catalog Description

Introductory statistics. Emphasizes understanding/applying statistical concepts/procedures. Visual/quantitative methods for presenting/analyzing data, common descriptive indices for univariate/bivariate data. Inferential techniques.

Student Qualifications

Students enrolling in EPSY 3264 should be juniors or seniors in high school and have earned a B+ or better in a high school algebra course. The course uses technology on a regular basis during both instruction and assessments (e.g., homework assignments, exams, etc.). Because of this, students enrolled in the course should be familiar with computers and technology (e.g., Internet browsing, Microsoft Word, opening/saving files, etc.).

Instructor Qualifications

Instructors apply and are selected by faculty in accordance with the University of Minnesota policy governing Academic Appointments with Teaching Functions. Once approved, an instructor is appointed as a Teaching Specialist 9754 (University Job Title and Code) in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Instructor qualifications are determined by the sponsoring University department.

View the Teacher Applicant Handbook for course-specific qualifications and application steps. 

Textbooks

Statistical Thinking 4.0: A Simulation Approach to Modeling Uncertainty. This includes online readings (Zieffler, A., & Catalysts for Change. (2017) Minneapolis, MN: Catalyst Press.) and a lab manual which is used daily in the classroom.

A PDF version of the lab manual can be downloaded for free from the same website. You can also order a paperback printed version from CreateSpace for $35.

Required Technology and Software

The course used the TinkerPlotsTM software. This software only runs on Mac OS or Windows. It is not compatible with Google Chrome Books. Other software programs (e.g., R, Python, Fathom) might be viable alternatives, but would need to be approved by the faculty coordinator. Graphing calculators would not be a suitable replacement for the software.

Students also need access to the Internet and computers. During class, there needs to be one computer available per three students and Internet access. Outside of class, students will need regular access to the Internet for class readings (mobile devices will suffice). In addition, each student will need access to a computer (with TinkerPlotsTM installed) to complete their homework.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do teachers have choice in assignments? Are there required assignments?
All schools are required to implement the same quizzes and tests used in the University of Minnesota course.

Who creates the assessments?
The University of Minnesota.

Is there a training and mentoring system for Basic and Applied Statistics teachers new to CIS?
Yes. You will be joining a learning community of high school teachers who share ideas and materials with each other through e-mail and teacher workshops held in the summer and throughout the school year. The cohort meets for in-person professional development at least three times during the year: for three days in the summer (typically the first week of August), one day during the fall semester, and one day during the spring semester. We also make use of a Google Group, which acts as both a hub of communication, and a place where teachers can ask questions related to the course.

New teachers are also required to attend an orientation that will familiarize them with University of Minnesota policies and procedures, and support available through CIS. This orientation will also help prepare CIS instructors to carry out required administrative tasks, such as registering students and posting grades.

High school class schedules vary: can a teacher in the block system teach Basic and Applied Statistics?
Yes. The CIS faculty coordinator can work with you and your school to accommodate your scheduling (when possible). For example, we can adapt the length of the course (teach over an academic year rather than a single semester). 

What happens at typical teacher professional development days?
Typical activities at CIS statistics workshops include reviewing and/or developing student assessment tools; developing and sharing instructional materials; discussing content, pedagogy, or assessment related to the University course; and receiving updates on CIS program policies and practices. 

How does EPSY 3264 differ from AP Statistics?
There are many differences between EPSY 3264 and AP Statistics. One of the main differences is the content. EPSY 3264 focuses on statistical inference throughout the entire course. AP Statistics includes statistical inference, but only as a part of the curriculum.

The manner in which statistical inference is performed also differs between these two courses. EPSY 3264 uses a simulation approach to performing statistical inference. AP Statistics takes a mathematical or “conventional approach” to statistical inference (for example, using a mathematical formula to compute a t-statistic).

AP Statistics spends a large part of the curriculum on descriptive statistics and on probability models. These are often introduced mathematically—using formulae and probability notation. EPSY 3264 uses the software TinkerPlotsTM to introduce probability models visually (rather than through formulae and notation) as they are used as a tool for statistical inference. Descriptive statistics are only used so far as they can help numerically summarize a construct to be used in statistical inference. Again, TinkerPlotsTM is used to compute these summaries, and formulae are not provided.

Is the student field day required for this course? 
The field day is not required but encouraged. Students perform a scavenger hunt on campus that gives them an opportunity to meet CIS statistics students from other schools and explore campus. It also introduces them to available resources, and reinforces the ideas of cooperation and group interdependence that are integral parts of the course. The field day usually takes place in October.

High Schools Offering This Course

Belle Plaine Senior High School
City Academy
Community of Peace Academy
Forest Lake Area Learning Center
Irondale High School
Mayo High School
Mounds View High School
Red Wing High School
Richfield High School
St. Charles High School
Washington Technology Magnet School
Watertown-Mayer High School
White Bear Lake Area High School