STATISTICS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SP '03

SURVIVAL GUIDE: 11 Tips

  1. Think of this as a hard 4 credit course. Plan your schedule accordingly. If you taking a lot of credits this semester, drop some if you can. If you can cut back your work hours, do it.

  2. Do the readings on a regular basis - THE WEEK THEY ARE ASSIGNED. Re-arrange your commitments if you can so that you have the time you need.
  3. You really DO want to come to class. In class we will spend a lot of time working with examples, doing group exercises, and engaging you in ACTIVE LEARNING. These processes will be key to your learning.
  4. These are not like regular readings: you should plan on reading each assignment out of B&P or G&S TWICE
  5. PRACTICE with the CONCEPTS. Your ability to do well in this course hinges on you becoming familiar with and comfortable with a number of abstract objects: things like means, standard deviations, correlations, sampling distributions and so on. THESE ARE YOUR FRIENDS and you need to play with them. As Devlin says, think of them as characters in a soap opera. Do problems; work them through mathematically. Make up thought problems, and talk through them. For example, if it is not possible for all the children in Lake Woebegone to be above average, is it possible for all but one of them to be above average?
  6. USE the RESOURCES available to you. I have regular office hours. I am willing to make special appointments with you if you need them. Come see me. I also have spent a lot of time linking you to different resources on the website. Take advantage of these links!!!. For example, there are statistical glossaries, and demonstrations of how certain procedures work.
  7. If you are not a computer savvy person, READ the COMPUTER BOOK VERY CAREFULLY, and allow yourself extra PRACTICE TIME outside of our lab time, to use the computer and use SPSS.
  8. BACK UP all your COMPUTER WORK. This means always having all your syntax files and all your output files and all your data files ON TWO SEPARATE DISKS. Your floppies will fail; it is not a question of if, it is a question of when.
  9. Concentrate more on REASONING than OVERMEMORIZING. For many students a stat course is a process of memorizing formulas and figuring out how to apply them. If you take this approach you will get a serious case of test block. Yes there are some things you will need to memorize - some definitions and some formulas. But you also want to put at least half of your energy into thinking about the REASONING involved. You can think your way through any statistics problem.
  10. RELAX AND HAVE SOME FUN! There will be days when the computer eats your disk, or your data file comes up in hieroglyphics or your calculator catches on fire. Don't worry. We are not trying to preserve the peace in Bosnia, although that is of course quite important.
  11. Remember: data are PLURAL. A datum is.