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Course Information

Teaching Team


Dr. Matthew Beckman
Chair of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Statistics

office: 316A Thomas Building
phone: (814) 863-1022
email: beckman [at] psu.edu

Teaching Assistants

Yuji Samizo (Section 001)
office: 331 Thomas Building
email: yzs138 [at] psu.edu

Ame Osotsi (Sections 002 & 003)
office: 331 Thomas Building
email: auo141 [at] psu.edu

Learning Assistants (by lab section)

Section 001 (11:15am): Daniel Liu - cbl5122 [at] psu.edu
Section 002 (12:20pm): Sarah Rodgers - svr5337 [at] psu.edu
Section 003 (1:25pm): Gabriel Brutico - gab5267 [at] psu.edu

Office Hours Schedule

Regular office hours begin the second week of classes. Hours are scheduled as follows, but students may also schedule an appointment if it is not possible to meet during these times. Also, if we are not with a student the teaching team will be actively monitoring Piazza to answer questions online during office hours as well.

Day Time Who Location
Monday 11:00am - Noon Dr. Beckman 316A Thomas
Monday 2:20pm - 3:20pm Daniel Liu (LA) 320 Thomas
Tuesday 2:00pm - 3:00pm Sarah Rodgers (LA) 320 Thomas
Tuesday (GSG) 6:00pm - 7:30pm Mario Hernandez (GSG Leader) 210 Ferguson
Wednesday 12:50pm - 1:50pm Yuji Samizo (TA) 331A Thomas
Wednesday 2:30pm - 3:30pm Dr. Beckman 316A Thomas
Thursday 6:00pm - 8:00pm Ame Osotsi (TA) 331B Thomas
Thursday (GSG) 6:00pm - 7:30pm Mario Hernandez (GSG Leader) 210 Ferguson
Friday 11:00am - Noon Dr. Beckman 316A Thomas
Friday 12:15pm - 1:15pm Gabriel Brutico (LA) 320 Thomas

Guided Study Group

GSG Leader: Mario Hernandez

  • Tuesdays 6:00-7:30pm in 210 Ferguson
  • Thursdays 6:00-7:30pm in 210 Ferguson

Class Time & Location

Lectures (Monday & Friday):

  • All Sections: 10:10am - 11:00am in 121 Sparks Building

Labs (Wednesday):

  • Section 001: 11:15am – 12:05pm in 111 Boucke
  • Section 002: 12:20pm – 1:10pm in 214 Boucke
  • Section 003: 1:25pm – 2:15pm in 111 Boucke

Required Materials


Statistics: Unlocking the Power of Data by Lock, Lock, Lock Morgan, Lock and Lock

Textbook options:

  • Hardcover with WileyPlus access
  • Looseleaf with WileyPlus access
  • eBook with WileyPlus access
  • WileyPlus only (includes online access to book content)


WileyPlus is required for online homework, and includes the full ebook, video tutorials, and practice problems.

  • Register with your PSU email address (i.e. XYZ567@psu.edu) at www.wileyplus.com with course ID 527113 (link; pdf).
  • Note: if you don’t use your Penn State email address, your grades will not transfer to Canvas, so you must use your Penn State email address in order to earn credit for your work.


  • i>clicker remote (used or new)
    • original i>clicker is fine
    • i>clicker2 works as well
  • register by 8/30/2016 at clickers.psu.edu
  • Register with your PSU email address (i.e. XYZ567@psu.edu).
  • Note: if you don’t use your Penn State email address, your grades will not transfer to Canvas, so you must use your Penn State email address in order to earn credit.



We will be using Piazza for class-related discussion and questions, to help you benefit from each other’s questions and the collective knowledge of your classmates, LAs, TAs, and professor. Questions can be posted to the entire class (for content-related questions), or privately to the teaching team. We encourage you to ask questions if you are struggling to understand a concept, and to answer your classmates’ questions when you can. Note that you can always post questions or comments to Piazza anonymously if you choose. Piazza may also be used for course announcements.

We will be using Piazza for class-related discussion and questions, to help you benefit from each other’s questions and the collective knowledge of your classmates and professor. Questions can be posted to the entire class (for content-related questions). I encourage you to ask questions if you are struggling to understand a concept, and to answer your classmates’ questions when you can. Note that you may choose to post questions or comments to Piazza anonymously if you wish. Piazza may also be used for course announcements.

Do Not use Piazza for issues related to your grade or other private matters (not even an instructor post); email those questions or comments to the instructor directly or discuss them in person.


Most issues about classroom content and activities can be posted to Piazza, but you should use email (or a conversation in person) for all personal or private matters.


Learning outcomes will be assessed based on performance in each of the following categories accompanied by their impact on the overall grade:

Category %
Clicker (MF Class) 2%
Piazza Participation 3%
Lab 10%
Homework 10%
Project 15%
Midterm I 15%
Midterm II 20%
Final Exam 25%

Grades will be updated on Canvas after each exam.

Final letter grades will be determined as follows:
A : 93-100%
A-: 90-92%
B+: 87-89%
B : 83-86%
B-: 80-82%
C+: 77-79%
C : 70-76%
D : 60-69%
F : < 60%

Components of the Course and Policies


We will use i>clickers throughout this course. Clicker questions will be multiple choice, and usually more conceptual, rather than computational. In class, you are not expected to always know the right answer, so credit is awarded simply for clicking in. However, it is to your benefit to try to get the right answer; the point is to think and actively engage with the material while it is being presented. Clicker grading will begin 8/31/16. Students that participate in at least 50% of the clicker questions for the semester will earn full credit for the “Clicker (MF Class)” grade; extra credit will be awarded to students that participate in more than 50% of the clicker questions. Clickers may not be shared, and may only be used by the person to whom it is regiestered. This is an academic integrity issue and failure to comply will result in a minimum consequence of a 0 clicker grade for everyone involved.


Labs are Wednesdays in Boucke. The primary goals of the labs are to (1) teach you how to use statistical software, and (2) offer valuable hands-on experience doing statistics in a supervised setting. If you need to miss a lab you must notify the instructor and TA with a legitimate excuse no less than 24 hours before the lab to be missed, and the lab will need to be completed on your own and turned in to your TA before the next lab. Canvas quizzes will be used to assess topics covered in the lab. The quiz must be taken in class in your appointed classroom (IP filters and access by section is enforced by Canvas). Your lowest lab score will be dropped at the end of the semester.


Weekly homework assignments are due on Fridays before class. Students are encouraged to collaborate on homework, but make sure you try the practice problems and graded problems on your own first in order to prepare you for exams. Homework will be assigned after each class, and is shown on the semester schedule on the STAT 250 course homepage. Late homework is accepted for half credit. Your lowest homework score will be dropped at the end of the semester.

Homework will be comprised of two parts: practice problems and graded problems Only the graded problems count towards your homework grade; the practice problems are purely for your own benefit. If you are struggling with the graded problems, we recommend doing the practice problems first since these are similar to the graded problems and have full solutions available in WileyPlus.


The semester project provides an opportunity to combine everything a student has learned in the course for use in a realistic application. Students are required to work in teams for the semester project. The project will have several phases with deadlines throughout the semester in order to motivate consistent progress. More details about the project will be provided as the semester develops.

Piazza Participation

Piazza participation is graded strictly for participation. In order to earn full credit, each student should make 2 or more substantive posts per week related to the content of the course; at least one post each week should be a reply to another student’s post. You may still post anonymously if you wish; grading will utilize Piazza meta-data that can be accessed only by an instructor.


There will be two midterm exams in class, and a final exam. These exams will be closed to all materials except for a non cell-phone calculator and one (Exam 1), two (Exam 2), or three (Final) single-sided 8 ½ 11 pages of notes. Exams are mandatory, and must be taken at the given time. Unavoidable legitimate reasons for not being able to take the exam must be approved by Dr. Beckman at least 24 hours before the beginning of the exam. Excuses submitted less than 24 hours before the exam may not be accepted; excuses submitted after the start time of the exam will not be accepted. Re-grading requests may be made within one week of when the graded exam is returned, will be honored only if points were tallied incorrectly or if your answer is fully correct but was marked wrong.

Course Description and Objectives


The official course description is available in Penn State’s University Bulletin linked here, but a recent version is reproduced below for your convenience.

STAT 250 Introduction to R (3) STAT 250 is a standard first course in statistics, with an emphasis on applications and statistical techniques of particular relevance to the biological sciences. Students who have successfully completed this course will understand basic concepts of probability and statistical inference, including common graphical and numerical data summaries; notions of sampling from a population of interest, including the sampling distribution of a statistic; construction and interpretation of confidence intervals, test statistics, and p-values; and connections between probabilistic concepts such as normal distributions and statistical inference. They will recognize various types of data, appropriate statistical methods to analyze them, and assumptions that underlie these methods.

Goals and objectives

In this course we’ll learn how to effectively collect data, describe data, and use data to make inferences and conclusions about real world phenomena. After finishing this course, you should be able to:

  • Recognize the importance of data collection and its role in determining scope of inference
  • Demonstrate a solid understanding of interval estimation and hypothesis testing.
  • Choose and apply appropriate statistical methods for analyzing one or two variables.
  • Use technology to perform descriptive and inferential data analysis for one or two variables.
  • Interpret statistical results correctly, effectively, and in context.
  • Understand and critique data-based claims.
  • Appreciate the power of data.

Keys to Success

My goal in teaching this class is to help you learn statistics and help you succeed in this course. Here are several suggestions to help you succeed:

  • Come to class ready to pay attention and think. Class is designed to give you opportunities to actively engage with the material; take advantage of this!
  • Try the homework by yourself first, get help where needed, and make sure you understand all the problems by the time you turn it in.
  • Attend every lab, and spend time in lab working on statistics and engaging in discussion of the material. Ask your peers, TA, or LA to explain if you are confused.
  • Stay on top of the material and clear up confusion as it occurs. The material in this class is cumulative, and it will be easier to learn new material if you understand the previous material.
  • Do lots of practice problems. Answers and full solutions to all the odd problems are given in WileyPlus, so you have as many problems as you want to practice on!
  • If you are struggling: read the textbook, watch the videos, try the practice problems, attend GSG sessions, form a study group, post questions to Piazza, and/or come to office hours.

Policies & Resources

ECoS Code of Mutual Respect

The Eberly College of Science Code of Mutual Respect and Cooperation embodies the values that we hope our faculty, staff, and students possess and will endorse to make the Eberly College of Science a place where every individual feels respected and valued, as well as challenged and rewarded.

Academic Integrity Statement

Academic dishonesty is not limited to simply cheating on an exam or assignment. The following is quoted directly from the “PSU Faculty Senate Policies for Students” regarding academic integrity and academic dishonesty:

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception and is an educational objective of this institution. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating of information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students.

All University and Eberly College of Science policies regarding academic integrity/academic dishonesty apply to this course and the students enrolled in this course. Refer to the following URL for further details on the academic integrity policies of the Eberly College of Science: http://www.science.psu.edu/academic/Integrity/index.html. Each student in this course is expected to work entirely on her/his own while taking any exam, to complete assignments on her/his own effort without the assistance of others unless directed otherwise by the instructor, and to abide by University and Eberly College of Science policies about academic integrity and academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty can result in assignment of “F” by the course instructors or “XF” by Judicial Affairs as the final grade for the student.

Disability Policy

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact Student Disability Resources (SDR; formerly ODS) at 814-863-1807, 116 Boucke, http://equity.psu.edu/student-disability-resources. In order to receive consideration for course accommodations, you must contact ODS and provide documentation (see the guidelines at http://equity.psu.edu/student-disability-resources/guidelines).

Syllabus Changes

This syllabus is subject to change as circumstances warrant; all changes will be distributed in writing (e.g. electronically).

This document was last updated on the following date:

## [1] "2016-09-06"

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