Lesson 0: Prerequisite Skills

What is Statistics? Section

Welcome to STAT 200! In this Lesson, you will be briefly introduced to the field of statistics and we will review some of the prerequisite skills that are necessary for success in this course. Let's start by looking at some general definitions. 

Statistics
The art and science of answering questions and exploring ideas through the processes of gathering data, describing data, and making inferences about a population on the basis of a smaller sample.
Statistical literacy

“People’s ability to interpret and critically evaluate statistical information and data-based arguments appearing in diverse media channels, and their ability to discuss their opinions regarding such statistical information” (Gal, as cited by Rumsey, 2002)

Rumsey, D. J. (2002). Statistical literacy as a goal for introductory statistics courses. Journal of Statistics Education, 10(3). http://www.amstat.org/publications/jse/v10n3/rumsey2.html

One of the primary goals of this course is to improve your statistical literacy. Statistical literacy is important because you are faced with statistics problems in your personal, academic, and professional lives. After completing this course, we hope that you are better able to interpret and evaluate statistics in any setting and that you are able to identify and conduct some of the most commonly used analyses.

Examples Section

Choosing a Medication
Your doctor gives you the option to choose one of two different medications. She provides you with research studies comparing the two medications. How can you use those research studies to inform your decision? 

Fantasy Football
In planning for your fantasy football team you come across many tables of statistics. How can you synthesize all of those numbers to best inform your fantasy football draft?

School Curriculum
Your child's school is selecting a new science curriculum. The administration has narrowed it down to three different curricula and is asking parents to vote. What information would you ask for to inform your vote?

Driving to Work
There are two routes that you could take to get to work in the morning. If you go through town, it usually takes between 6 and 14 minutes, depending on the traffic and red lights. If you take the interstate, it consistently takes 10 minutes. Which route will you take to work this morning?

Marketing Decisions
Your company has put you in charge of making a decision between two marketing campaigns. How can you design a research study to collect data to inform your decision? 

This is not a mathematics course. While you will need to be able to apply some elementary mathematical procedures (e.g., multiplication, division, exponents, summations), the emphasis of this course is on improving your statistical literacy and using technology to answer questions. On the next page you will review the mathematical operations that we will use this semester.