Statistical Methods in Psychology

Psychology 302, Fall 99

Lecture: MWF 10:00-10:50, Straub 146
Labs: M 12-13:20 M 13:30-14:50* in 180 Straub, David E., TA
Tu 11-12:20 Tu 12:30-13:50 in 180 Straub, Dave F., TA
Professor: Dr. Holly Arrow Phone: 346-1996
Office: 357 Straub Office Hours: M 1-2, F 8:45-9:45 & by appt. MWF.
Teaching Assistants:
Dave French 346-4937 Straub 203; Off. Hrs: W 9-10, Th 1-2 & by Appt
David Evans 346-4931 Straub 221; Off. Hrs: M 3-4, T 2-3 & by Appt

Class Page: Http://

MOTET conference: Arrow302-F99 (access through class page link)


Course Description: The purpose of this course is to introduce you to descriptive and inferential statistics, teach you fundamental skills in calculating statistics and analyzing data using a computer statistics package, and improve your ability to understand and evaluate the statistical information reported in primary research articles. This is the first of two foundation courses for students who intend to major in psychology.

Course Design: The course is designed to promote active learning -- through discussion, solving problems, computer exercises, and collaboration with other students. I want students to speak up, to question and challenge, to take responsibility for learning the material. I see myself and the TAs as guides, cheerleaders, and coaches. The design of the course encourages interaction and teamwork among students and between students, professor, and TAs. Group quizzes are completed in collaboration with others, and students are free to work together on homework. One potential problem of team learning, however, is that some students may rely too much on others and never master the material. To protect against this problem, every student must demonstrate satisfactory core competencies by the end of the course by passing the final exam.

Small Group System: Students in class will be organized into small groups of 3-4 students who are in the same lab section. Please sit with your group members. You will complete group quizzes with your groups, discuss concepts in lecture, and work through problems together in lab. If someone in your group is absent, please pick up extra handouts for them, pass along announcements, and share your notes. If you know you will be absent, let someone in your group know -- they will appreciate the courtesy.


Overview: You will be graded on four components: participation (in and out of class), homework (6 sets), quizzes (4), and exams (midterm and final). Students must pass the final to pass the course.

1. Participation. Attendance is required. Participation includes discussion and group work during class time and also on MOTET (see p. 7). At the end of the term, each student will evaluate the contributions of other group members; these evaluations will affect participation grades.

2. Homework. Some problems will be completed "by hand" (which includes calculators); others will be completed using SPSS, and some can be completed either way (your choice). To earn full credit, all work should be shown and explained. Keys will be passed out and/or posted on the web. Please turn homework in on time! Late homework receives half credit; quarter credit if more than one week overdue.

3. Quizzes. The four quizzes will focus on understanding concepts. Quizzes are closed book, and each quiz has an individual and group portion. Quiz questions may be challenged, in writing, if you (or your group) feel your answer is as good or better than the one marked correct. If the challenge is successful, grades will be adjusted for the person or group that submitted the challenge. Challenges are often effective! If you miss a quiz, a make-up will be given during week 10. It will be short answer format, and will replace the whole quiz (individual and group portions) that was missed. It will not necessarily cover the same material.

4. Exams. Midterm and final are open book, open notes. These will be completed individually (no group portions). Data sets used for the exams will be handed out in advance: get to know this data, make notes on what you discover, and bring these notes to the exam. Final given on Monday Dec 6, 10:15-12:15. Complete the midterm and final on your own. This is when you fly using your own wings and show us what you've learned. Bring calculators, books, notes, data handouts, card deck.

5. Texts and other resources. The main text and study guide/workbook are by Aron & Aron, entitled Statistics for the Behavioral and Social Sciences. The supplementary text by Knapp is Learning Statistics Through Playing Cards. All are required: Buy them promptly and start reading. You will also need a hand-held calculator (solar ones are environmentally friendly and also practical, since batteries can't fail) and a standard deck of playing cards. Read assigned chapters BEFORE class. Write down your questions and note which sections you don't fully understand. Reread these sections after you finish the chapter. The second time, you will understand more. Come to lecture and labs prepared to ask questions; active learning is essential for acquiring concepts and skills. Bring Calculator, Texts, and Deck of Cards to class and to exams. Bring study guide (SG) to labs, since it has the SPSS instructions in it.


Learning disabilities & athletes. If you have a learning disability and need adjustments to help you to get the most out of the class, or are on a sports team and need adjustments because of travel, please contact Dr. Arrow ASAP. With advance planning, adjustments are relatively easy. Adjustments at the last minute are problematic and sometimes not plausible.

"Repeaters": If you are taking the class for the second (or third) time because you did not get a C- or better in your previous attempt(s), please also see Dr. Arrow early on (during office hours or make an appointment). I'd like to talk with you about how to approach the class so that you are successful this time. I want you to not only pass the course, but to do well. Your previous experience will help!


Elements Points Course grades

based on percentage of points earned*

Participation: 20 A+ 97-100 C 70-73.9
Homework: 48 A 90-96.9 C- 67-69.9
Ind quizzes: 20 A- 87-89.9 D+ 64-66.9
Group quizzes: 32 B+ 84-86.9 D 60-63.9
Midterm: 20 B 80-83.9 D- 57-59.9
Final exam* 60 B- 77-79.9 N < 67
TOTAL points 200 C+ 74-76.9 P 67

*Important Note: To pass the course, you must demonstrate a competent understanding of the course material on the final exam. If you demonstrate competence by passing the final, you will earn the grade determined by the listed cutoff percentages. If you do especially well on the final, you will be eligible for "mastery" points that push up your course grade beyond what the cutoffs dictate. The final exam will be difficult to ensure that it discriminates well between competence and mastery. Students who fail the final but whose work on homework & quizzes is above C- will have the option of taking an incomplete in the course and retaking the final later. Deadline for clearing incompletes is finals week of Spring Term, 2000.


Students are sometimes confused about what is allowed and not allowed in a collaborative learning class. Here are the rules:

Collaborative Learning: Group portion of quizzes, homework, participation, and studying for exams. Group quiz portion helps everyone understand the material better, because you actively discuss the problems. Discussing homework with other students, with TAs, and comparing your work with others is encouraged. Talking over the problems and reworking them when you discover that others got different answers promotes deeper understanding of concepts and gives you more practice in applying skills. However, each student must submit a separate homework, and you must show your work (no photocopies or word-for-word copying). Many students find that study groups are also useful in preparing for quizzes and exams.

What counts as "Cheating" in this class: Your work on the Final Exam, the Midterm, and on Individual Portion of Quizzes must your own. Copying the work of others on these elements will be considered "cheating," and if detected, will earn you an F or N for the course. On exams, you can consult any materials that you have brought to the room, but you may not consult what others are doing. On quizzes (closed book, closed notes), you may not consult anything but your own memory (or, during group portion, the collective wisdom of your group). Multiple versions of the exams will be created to ensure that copying answers from others will guarantee a poor score, and to help protect you against temptation.


1. Passive listening and reading

Write, draw, figure. Think with a pencil to learn. Turn the concepts into something you do.

2. Spectator overconfidence

Watching someone go through the steps is a starting point only. You have to get in the pool to learn how to swim.

3. Beginner's luck

Doing it right once doesn't mean you can repeat the trick. Get it wrong to understand how the process works.

4. Trying to cram

You can cram content, but skills, like water, don't compress. Don't fall behind; it's too hard to catch up.

5. Giving up because you get stuck

Everyone gets stuck. Try a new tack. Ask for help. Play around. Math is all about getting stuck and unstuck.


1. Keep up and keep trying

Read assigned chapters early and often, come to lecture, start on homework immediately so you will finish on time. If you keep up and keep trying, the concepts will eventually sink in. Ask questions. Ask for help. Try again. Don't give up!

2. Work hard on understanding material in the first half of the course

If you have a pretty good feel for the concepts in the first half, the second half will deepen your understanding. If you don't grasp the concepts in the first half, the second half will make no sense.

3. Stay in touch, and speak up

Come to office hours. Ask questions, in class and on MOTET. The process of forming a question helps you discover what you do and do not understand, which is vital to mastering this subject.