Choosing a Statistics Class


I’ve been busy this week taking six potential classes for as part of my program requirement, with special emphasis on the statistics classes. I’ve taken stats before, but the required qualitative class in the graduate level of the communication program went by so fast that even though I could replicate the techniques pretty decently (got an A for it), I could barely remember what everything was for. For some reason, my graduate faculty seems to rush through the required stuff, leaving it to us individuals to figure things out on our own. This can be a good thing, as it teaches us to be self-reliant, but it can also be a real test of effectiveness…

The threshold of how much to teach should at least accommodate some form of reasoning as to why we do things in a certain way. I’m pretty ok with computers, so understandably, those classes don’t need much explanation for me. But for statistics, I felt like I started off on a bad foot and really have a bad taste in my mouth at every mention of it. Fortunately for me, I’ve sampled three statistics classes for the past two days; all of them from external departments and they seem to put statistics in a better light. Still, I’m not going to kill myself over three stats classes, so I’m picking just two.

Since there’s no official guide to stats classes, here’s my raw review of selected University at Buffalo’s statistic classes (applicable to your school too). I attended these classes and looked out for the following factors:
1. Explanation of Application (the train of thought being “why use this”)
2. Syllabus Coverage (whether it gives you what you need)
3. Amount of Homework (important for busy people)
4. Methodology (mathematical techniques used)
5. Instructor’s Charisma (we’re warm humans, not cold-hearted robots)

CEP532: Intro to Statistical Research
From the Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology. Easy enough for anyone new to statistics… maybe too easy. I’m probably taking it to make sure my bases are covered. Recommended for stats newbies.

PSY607: Advanced Statistics (experimental stats)
From the Psychology department, Dr. Kenneth Levy seems to be prone to making mistakes on the board… he knows it and says it isn’t as important as understanding the concept, but man, it’s enough to clearly exasperate the class . Goes pretty fast… clearly advanced and requires lots of patience.

CEP522: Statistical Methods in Education I
Excellent middle ground stats class. Seems to go from a case study in journal articles to statistical explanation, making everything seem like a useful tool (assistive) rather than the start and end of everything. Prof. Jeremy Finn is very experienced and loves teaching stats, so he explains things with clarity. Includes SPSS computing classes. This is one of a two/three semester series, but it’s great as a standalone class too.

As you can tell by now, I’m going with CEP532 & CEP522.
If you’re wondering what happened to the Human Factor’s class I was planning to take… well, it’s got too much redundancy in other engineering areas and I really can’t afford the time to learn really bizarre kine metric algorithms.

5 thoughts on “Choosing a Statistics Class

  1. Thanks for the review Kevin. I felt the same way about our stats. I got an A and I can replicate anything put in front of me but my comprehension what it means is zlich. It’s sad I think b/c it’s assumed A=understanding when really it’s just good replication.

  2. That’s because you are subject A and I am subject B… If subject A and subject B get good grades, that’s all that computationally matters. šŸ˜›

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