PSY 769: Intermediate Statistics in the Social Sciences
Section 03, Registration Number 41868
Section 04, Registration Number 41867
Professor Keith A. Markus
Section 03: Tuesdays 6:00-8:00 PM
Section 04: Thursdays 6:00-8:00 PM
Section 03 & 04: L2.72.05NB
"The primary purpose of the course is to
educate students about basic [statistical] theories and
techniques used in the behavioral sciences. The instructor
will briefly review information typically covered in
undergraduate statistics, and then introduce more advanced
statistical techniques. Upon completion, the student is
expected to understand the theoretical underpinnings for the
various statistical techniques and the assumptions that data
must meet to validly use these statistics. The student will
also gain an introduction to computer-based statistical
analysis. 30 hours. 3 credits." (from
Many students enter the course several
years after having taken an undergraduate statistics
course. Moreover, new material often precedes review
material in order of logical development. As a
consequence, we will "briefly review" introductory material
as if it were new material and do so for most of the
semester. Nonetheless, from the start, we will cover
most of the material in more depth than a typical
undergraduate course. We will cover a number of topics
not included in a typical introductory course.
Computer based statistical analysis will
largely be limited to the use of spreadsheets. This is
because we offer another course entirely devoted to the
topic of computer based statistical analysis (PSY
737). I highly recommend that course to both thesis
and non-thesis students. Other advantages to
spreadsheets include the fact that you can easily look at
the formulas to know exactly what they are doing,
spreadsheets can be tailored to the course, kept simple and
focused, and thanks to open source office suites like Libre
Office, you can take them wherever you go without any need
for licenses to use commercial software.
1. Students will learn to view psychological phenomena from the perspective of quantitative stochastic processes.
2. Students will develop linguistic competence in interpreting, describing, and critically evaluating basic statistical data.
3. Students will gain experience reasoning from and about numerical data.
Note: It is not possible for this
course to cover all of the statistics that you might need
for a thesis. If you plan on doing a thesis, prepare
yourself for the fact that your data analysis will likely
involve at least some statistics not covered in this
course. See Blackboard for a document comparing what
it covered in this course to other benchmarks.
Diversity and Inclusion
Modern statistics are a cultural artifact tracing back to 19th century Europe but the field has grown to embrace scholarly contributions from around the world. Statistics has some ugly episodes in its history, including historical figures involved in eugenics who also made lasting contributions to the development of statistics. Nonetheless, progress in statistics is driven in large part by responding to existing needs and unsolved problems. As such, the field benefits from contributions from people who bring diverse perspectives and experiences to statistics. Most of you are psychology students seeking careers in psychology that will not involve becoming professional statisticians. Nonetheless, much large scale research in psychology involves collaboration between researchers with expertise in statistics and methodology one the one hand and researchers with expertise in a particular topic in psychology on the other hand. The better you understand statistics, the better you can contribute to such teams and communicate with others in your field. My intention is for this course to speak to you and empower you in your career no matter your background or milieu. Moreover, statistical methods play a central role documenting injustice or discrimination and in crafting legislation intended to combat them. Looking beyond your profession and career, I hope that a richer understanding of statistical methods will be valuable to you as an informed citizen and participant in democratic governance seeking to leave the world better than you found it.
Required Background Knowledge
This course assumes familiarity with basic math and algebra. Please take the Basic Math and Algebra Screening Test on Blackboard. Let me know if the questions are unfamiliar to you or if you find the test difficult. If so, it may be wise to talk to your program head about taking an undergraduate math course this term and registering for this course in a later term.
Bachman, R & Paternoster, R. (2016). Statistical methods for criminology and criminal justice (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. (Caution: If you rent, make sure that the rental term reaches through finals week.) Please make sure that you get the 5th edition. A number of typographical errors have been corrected and some material has been changed.
I strongly recommend that students install the free office suite Libre Office and use the Calc spreadsheet program (https://www.libreoffice.org/). I will also post Microsoft Excel versions of the spreadsheets but Microsoft is breaking backward compatibility and some of the features used in the course no longer work in Excel (although they did when I created them). The programs are very similar, but there are some important differences. Such spreadsheet software remains a popular choice for data entry even among researchers who use more specialized statistical software for data analysis (the topic of PSY 737). However, research shows that specialized statistical software can be more confusing than enlightening when learning fundamental statistical concepts. Excel/Calc offer a simple computing environment for working with data ideal for learning and gaining confidence with fundamental statistical concepts. (Mac users: You can open both Excel and Calc files using the Mac version of LibreOffice. However the spreadsheets will not work in Numbers.) Additional optional software will be explained on Blackboard. (You will need a computer that is capable of running locally installed software to complete the assignments. A digital device that relies entirely on web applications will not suffice.)
Internet Connection and Online Course
Students will need to be able to download files from Blackboard onto a computer with spreadsheet software installed. Blackboard is accessible through the CUNY portal: www.cuny.edu and works best with the Mozilla Firefox browser.
The course design is a "flipped classroom". I will not lecture. Instead, I will post instructional materials associated with each week on Blackboard for you to use outside of class. We will use class time to (a) answer your questions, (b) work on practice problems, (c) review the quizzes and T&F questions from the presentation slides, and (d) other activities to help reinforce learning. (However, you will still need to devote time outside of class to completing assignments.)
Do the reading before the corresponding class. If you
have questions about the reading, bring them to class and I
will try to answer them there (ideally by posting them to a
discussion board on Blackbaord). I want to leave some
flexibility to use the class time in the manner you will find
most useful. Note, most students find it helpful to read
some materials more than once. Only the first time
through the reading need precede the corresponding class.
Asking effective questions: Try to
formulate questions in an effective manner. If you ask
me to explain some topic, especially a fairly general one, I
will probably give a brief overview and refer you to the
appropriate passages from the textbook or instructional
materials. This is not an effective question (unless
that is what you are after) because you are not giving me
clear information about what you do not understand, leaving me
to guess or just duplicate what you can find elsewhere.
If something was unclear to you there, it is likely to be
equally unclear in my answer. Instead, try to be as
specific as you can about what you do not understand. If
you do not understand a particular term, tell me what you find
confusing about it. If you do not understand a
particular sentence or paragraph, cite the passage and explain
why it does not make sense to you. If you are confused
about a particular statistical analysis, explain the step that
you find unclear and what you think that the possible options
are. The more context and detail that you can give me,
the better the chances that I can give an answer that is
helpful and informative to you and to other students in the
class with similar questions.
If your question is related to an assignment,
phrase your question in a way that does not involve any
spoilers for other students working on the same
assignment. If in doubt, email me privately rather than
directly posting on a discussion board. I will then
paste an anonymized and, if necessary, edited version of the
question and answer to the discussion board.
Feel free to search for answers to your
questions on the Web. However, please do not attempt to
post questions related to the course using online fora like
Cross Validated or Stack Overflow. These are precious
resources maintained by busy people donating their time and
expertise. It is not appropriate to lean on them for
questions related to a course when you have ready access to an
instructor. Save that for later in your career when you
are no longer a student. (Also, you will probably get a
terse answer that either refers you to introductory material
or assumes more background knowledge than you currently
have.) You should be able to complete assignments based
on the provided course materials but if you make use of
additional resources be sure to credit them in what you turn
in (see Academic Integrity).
Everyone from me to your class mates are
depending on you to ask questions when you have them. If
you have a question, you can be fairly sure that others have
the same question. Your question is not a "dumb
question" but asking the question is the smartest thing that
you can do. Everyone else will appreciate your having
asked the question.
I recommend that you begin each week by reading the chapter once through for the first time. From there, move to the online instructional materials. These are organized into subtopics which you can often explore in an order of your choosing. (My videos often provide an overview of the week's material.) In many ways, learning statistics is like learning to skate board, ride a bike, or bake a cake: You can read about it from a book but you really need to practice to develop any skill. So, I strongly recommend taking time to play around with the spreadsheet calculators provided each week, plugging in different numbers and trying things out for yourself. Instructional materials primarily include: (a) pdf handouts, (b) spreadsheet workbooks and (c) videos. I will also provide links each week to StatQuest videos on related topics. Finish the first reading of the chapter and the instructional materials before class meets. Use what you learn to complete the Application assignment and to formulate questions to ask in class. After class, I recommend completing the weekly quiz before the start of the next week, to get it out of the way. I recommend completing at least one or two quests prior to taking the quiz because these are an excellent way to check your understanding of the material and to gain a deeper understanding of it. Also, Quests take time and you do not want them to pile up until the week before the deadline.
Academic Integrity Attestation
This is a non-graded course requirement. No other assignments will be accepted for credit unless this form is completed, signed and submitted. The form is available on the Blackbaord course and attests that you understand the principles of academic integrity and will abide by them in completing all course work involved in this course. (See further information near the end of the syllabus.)
Weekly application assignments will appear on Blackboard in the folder for each week. See Schedule for due dates. These will be relatively short assignments applying the material for that week. You can complete them in a word processing program (or simple text editor) and upload the file to Blackboard using the Blackboard Assignment Tool in the same location. PDF (portable document format) files are great because special characters are stored internally. I can probably also open RTF (rich text format), ODT (open document text), DOC (old Microsoft Office format) and DOCX (new Microsoft Office format) but these are riskier (e.g., if you use a font I do not have). If I cannot open a file, or it appears jumbled, I will accept it as on time but send an email request for a PDF file. Try to keep up with these and not fall behind but I will accept late Application Assignments up until the Quest deadline for each section of the course.
Note: Students sometimes become overconfident
and try to complete Application Assignments before they do the
reading. This is a bad idea. We will cover things
you did not learn in your undergraduate statistics
course. If you attempt the Application Assignments
without doing the reading, you will invariably do a face
plant. That will mean that I have to expend a lot of
time and effort giving you written feedback about what you did
wrong, even though by the time I grade the assignment, you
will probably have done the reader and figured out what you
did wrong on your own. This will delay me returning
grades and deny you the opportunity to test your understanding
of the reading when you complete the assignment. Many of
the assignments include extensive cautions against the kinds
of mistakes people make when they have not done the
reading. Always go back and check your answer against
these cautions before you submit your answer.
Weekly quizzes will comprise six questions. When there are two chapters, there will be three questions from each chapter. The quizzes will be available on Blackboard in the folder for the week that they test (not the week that they are due!). See Schedule for due dates. Your total quiz grade is equal to the mean proportion correct across all quizzes after dropping the two lowest quiz grades. See Blackboard for a document providing a more detailed description of quiz items. You only get one try at a quiz. So, I strongly recommend completing all other assignments and mastering the material through further study before taking the quiz. You are allowed to use your notes, textbook, and other instructional a materials while taking a quiz, but they are not necessary to complete the quiz.
Note: We will go over quizzes in class after they are
due. As a result, there can be no late quizzes. This
will be a hard and fast deadline because delays in going over
the quizzes are very disruptive to other students. If you
miss a quiz for some reason, it will be counted toward the two
lowest grades that you can drop. If you miss three or more
quizzes, the zero grade will count toward your course
grade. So, stay on top of the deadlines and be sure to
complete quizzes before the deadline (see schedule for specific
times of day and dates). Caution: I discourage waiting
until the last minute because if you have not submitted the quiz
by the deadline according to Blackboard's internal clock, you
will be prevented from ever submitting it even if you have
answered all the questions. Leave yourself time for
technical difficulties with Blackboard or your internet
connection (also Blackboard can sometimes go down unexpectedly).
Your final grade comprises your Application Assignment grade, your Quiz grade, your Quest grade for each of the three parts of the course, and your Power Up. The Application grade counts each of the 12 application assignments as 1 point and equals the sum of these divided by 12. The Quiz grade counts each quiz as 1 point, drops the 2 lowest, and divides the sum by 10. The Quest grade for each part is the number of quests that you (successfully) completed (again, not just turned in with answers). You are required to complete 15 quests for Part 1 and for Part 2, and 12 quests for Part 3. Your final grade is based on the proportion of the required quests completed in each part. Specifically, I calculate min(N, F) / N where N is the minimum required quests (15 or 12) and F the number of completed quests for that part of the course. The Power Up is calculated based on extra quests beyond those required. Here, I calculate max(0, F - N) for each part of the course, add them together, and divide by 14. As such, you can never loose points with a negative Power Up, it will never fall below zero. The Power Up reflects the extra quests you complete beyond those required for each part of the course (not by individual chapter).
Caution: All of this is contingent on your
submitting the required Academic Integrity Attestation
form. I will not accept assignments or quizzes for a
grade without a signed form.
Your Numeric Course Grade is calculated from
the above scores as follows: (.25 * Application
Assignments) + (.25 * Quizzes) + (.17 * Part 1 Quests) + (.17
* Part 2 Quests) + (.16 * Part 3 Quests) + (.05 * Power
Up). In words, Applications and Quizzes both count 25%
of your grade, required Quests count for 50%, and you can earn
up to 5% extra credit by completing extra quests. There
will be no other extra credit options beyond Power Ups.
I will use the following chart
to convert Numeric Course Grades to Letter Course
Grades. On the proportion (not percent) scale, I will
round .xx5 and above up and anything below .xx5 down.
|Letter Grade||Numeric Course Grade|
Contact Information: (It usually works best to email me.)
Hours: By appointment. I will dedicate a
Blackboard Discussion Board to questions and check it several
times a week. For anything that you do not want to share
with other students, contact me by email. I can answer
many questions quickly by email (I will post an anonymous
version to Blackboard for course-related questions.)
Office: Room 10.65.04, 524 W59 Street. (Due to the ongoing pandemic, I will generally only be on campus to check my mailbox twice a week and for a minimal amount of time.)
Phone: 212-237-8784 Please do not leave messages at this number. (I do not check voice mail when off campus and I no longer receive voicemail as email for some reason.)
||Section 03 Tuesdays
|Section 04 Thursdays
All assignments due by 5:PM on the date listed in the meeting dates column unless otherwise noted.
||Ch 1 (Recommended, Appendix A)
||Why am I here? What is this class about?
Statistical inference and Sampling.
||Week 1 Quiz
Week 1 Application
Week 2 Application
||Levels of measurement, Distributions|
||Week 2 Quiz
Week 3 Application
||Central tendency, Dispersion|
(Class Does Not Meet 2/21, Monday Schedule)
||Week 3 Quiz
Chapters 1-5 Quests Deadline (and late Application Assignments for Part I)
||Week 5 Application
||Probability, Hypothesis Testing|
||Week 5 Quiz
Week 6 Application
||Point estimation, Confidence Intervals|
||Week 6 Quiz
Week 7 Application
||Single group mean and proportion|
||Week 7 Quiz
Week 8 Application
||Hypotheses and measures of association with categorical data|
|Week 8 Quiz
Week 9 Application
||Two group mean and proportion|
(Class Does Not Meet 4/11)
||Week 9 Quiz
Chapters 6-10 Quests Deadline (and late Application Assignments for Part II)
(Class Does Not Meet 4/6 or 4/13)
|Week 11 Application
||Week 11 Quiz
Week 12 Application
||Bivariate correlation and regression.|
||Week 12 Quiz
Week 13 Application
||5/11||Week 13 Quiz
Week 14 Application
|15 (Finals week)
(No Class Meeting)
(No Class Meeting)
|Week 14 Quiz
Chapters 11-14 Quests Deadline (and late Application Assignments for Part III)