Welcome to the amazing world of statistics! You might be thinking that the topic is just about a bunch of charts, graphs, and odd-looking formulas, but in fact, it is a fascinating and challenging field of study. In this course, we will indeed study those charts and graphs, and yes, that array of complex formulas. But beyond those tools, we will find an entire new way of thinking, a new way of approaching and understanding the world around us. We will learn why taking aspirin helps lower the risk and severity of a heart attack; how researchers have determined that the more friends you have on a social networking site, the more likely you are to have fewer friends in real life; and how political pollsters almost always know the outcome of an election even before the polls open.
The course is divided into 10 units of study. The first two units are devoted to simple statistical calculations and graphical representations of data. Most of this material will be familiar to you from previous math or science courses. Unit 3 is devoted to a foundational concept of statistics, which is the study of probability. Unit 4 will introduce you to random variables and a very important distribution called the binomial distribution. Unit 5 will focus entirely on one topic: the bell curve. You may have studied the bell curve, also called the normal distribution, in other courses, but this unit will make sure that you are confident and competent in knowing its properties, its uses, and its central importance to all of the material in the rest of the course and in the entire field of statistics.
The first five units build the foundation of concepts, vocabulary, knowledge, and skills for success in the remainder of the course. In the final five units, we will take the plunge into the domain of inferential statistics, where we make statistical decisions based on the data that we have collected. In Unit 6, we will learn how to design statistically sound experiments and studies, in order to collect valid, reliable data. In Unit 7 and Unit 8, we will learn how to analyze the data, using confidence intervals and hypothesis tests, to make statistically sound decisions and inferences about our results.
The final two units will be devoted to two topics frequently used in statistical research: linear regression and chi-square analysis. These exotic-sounding topics will act as springboards for your further study of the discipline in your college undergraduate or graduate programs.
We will use a variety of resources in addition to the text. An online course needs to be multidimensional so that you won't be lulled into a daily grind of textbook reading and doing homework problems. In light of this, you will supplement your course text with video lessons, interactive applets, and research into some of statistics' most interesting, controversial, and fascinating experiments and studies. By the end of the course, you will have mastered the foundational concepts of a field of endeavor that will assist you in studying and understanding the world around you as never before.