Statistics in the Real World

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

"For Today's Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics." Such was the title of a New York Times feature and the motivation behind this course. While the field of statistics is growing daily, the most critical aspects of the subject are accessible to high school students. This course will explain how, where, and why statistics is used to solve real world issues in every imaginable field of research. We'll examine methods of collecting, summarizing, and analyzing data, focusing on issues critical to public health, economics, human behavior, sports, and many other fields. For example, we'll explore how statistics was used as evidence in a murder trial, to question the results of a presidential election, and to accurately assess which test of lung cancer led to increased survival time among patients.

After taking this course, students will have a better understanding of how to interpret, calculate, and graph statistics, whether to win an argument with friends or to ace a class project. The structure of the course will be the same each week of the course: Mondays through Thursdays include "interactive" lectures for the first half of the class, and labs and experiments or data collection and analysis for the second half of the class; Fridays include PowerPoint presentations. By presenting to their peers, students will learn how best to organize, explain, and justify their research. For example, previous student-created projects have included the comparison between time spent on Facebook and body weight, the association between race and the death penalty, and the importance of exercise on preventing heart disease.

Students will learn to properly identify, collect, and summarize a data set of interest. Next, students will use statistical methods and hypothesis testing to explore a scientific question of interest. Included will be summaries of the normal distribution, contingency tables, and p-values. Finally, students will learn how to improve both research techniques through the use of "R", an open source programming language used for statistics, and presentation strategies through the development of PowerPoint presentations.

Prerequisites: A full-year course in high school algebra (Algebra I) provides a sufficient level of mathematical background needed to take this course. The discrete math covered in this course appears on standardized tests (SAT I, SAT II, ACT) and the syllabus includes the majority of topics appearing on the AP Statistics exam. A background in programming is not required, as it will be covered during lab sessions.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEMA0907
  • Length: 3 weeks

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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