STA 10 Statistical Thinking

Units: 4

Lecture: 3 hours
Discussion/Laboratory: 1 hour

Catalog Description:
Statistics and probability in daily life. Examines principles of collecting, presenting and interpreting data in order to critically assess results reported in the media; emphasis is on understanding polls, unemployment rates, health studies; understanding probability, risk and odds.

Prerequisite: Two years of high school algebra.

This course is intended to prepare students to understand the use of statistics and probability in daily life.  After completion of the course, they should be able to read and evaluate the results of statistical experiments and surveys, as well as be able to evaluated odds and risks for simple situations.   The course will emphasize concepts rather that formulas, and will have a significant writing component. 

Summary of course contents:

  1. An overview of risks and relationships in daily life. 
  2. What data is all about and why it is useful; including examples like unemployment rates, television ratings and standardized test scores.
  3. Graphical and numerical data summaries, including misleading graphs and summaries. 
  4. Finding and displaying relationships in data. 
  5. Principles of random sampling and surveys, including how to detect misleading results. 
  6. Principles of designing experiments, including experimenter effects, placebo effects and other pitfalls. 
  7. Basic concepts of probability, random variations and expectation, including examples such as lotteries and insurance; uses and misuses of probability in daily life. 
  8. Sampling variability, margin of error and a conceptual explanations of hypotheses testing and confidence intervals. Common misuses of statistical inference; how to interpret medial reports of statistical studies. 
  9. An overview and discussion of meta-analysis; how to recognize and evaluate the results of meta-analysis presented in the news. 
  10. Understanding an evaluating statistical information in daily life: tying together the above topics.


Illustrative reading:
"Seeing Through Statistics" by Jessica Utts


Potential Overlap:
STA 013, Elementary Statistics, is also an entry-level course.  However, it focuses on methodology, while this course will focus on concepts.