Math 158   Introduction to Statistics A

Section 800 MWF 12:40 pm Snygg 101                   Section 810 MWF 11:30 pm Snygg 125

Scott Preston, 308 Snygg, 312-2756.


Wednesday 3:00 – 4:00, Thursday 12:00 – 2:00, and by appointment. I'm generally around in the late afternoon.


Course information (syllabus, calendar, and other materials) are posted on the internet:

Follow the Information link for Math 158-specific documents.


Introductory Statistics, 6th ed., Neil A. Weiss, Addison-Wesley.


Chapters 1-9, chapters 11, 12 and 14, and other topics as determined by the instructor.


Public opinion polling (particularly as it relates to pre-election polls). This topic will be covered and tested thoroughly. Issues related to this topic are covered in Sections 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.3, 5.3, 6.5, and 12.1-3. Additional materials will be discussed and distributed in class. Complete mastery of this topic will serve you well.

Grades &

Three mid-term exams, a comprehensive final exam, quizzes and assigned work contribute to your final grade. Exam dates are given below.

The three midterm exams account for 50% of your final grade. The best of these accounts for 25% of your final grade, the worst for 8.33%; your “middle” exam then accounts for 16.67%.

The final exam accounts for 30% of your final grade.

Graded homework assignments and quizzes account for 20% of your grade.

Course averages are converted to course grades as follows:













You are responsible for all announcements made in class. Daily coverage and assignments will be posted on the internet. You are expected to document personal and/or family emergencies that cause you to fail to meet a class obligation.


Many exercises will be assigned as regular homework – for your practice. It is your responsibility to complete these exercises. A smaller collection of exercises will be graded; exercises to be graded will be designated in class.


Different tools suit different jobs. A decent handheld calculator (one with basic statistical capabilities) will be useful. We will also make use of Minitab and Excel. Appropriate orientations will be provided.


Sep 21: Last day to drop the course

Oct 1: Midterm 1

Oct 29: Midterm 2 and the final day of the course withdrawal (WP/WF/WN) period

Nov 22: Midterm 3

Dec 15, 10:30 am, Snygg 125 Final Exam Section 810

Dec 17, 10:30 am, Snygg 101 Final Exam Section 800

Academic Integrity

Violation of college rules regarding academic dishonesty will be penalized with a course grade of E or with charges brought before the appropriate judicial committee(s).

Statistics is a challenge for many students. It is difficult to quantify common sense, and that is largely the purpose of stats. The “math” is generally quite basic. A number of statistical procedures involve combining a sequence of simpler computations. To get the “correct number” often requires thinking through a sequence of steps. Almost every problem is a word problem or implies a word problem. The questions and answers come in the context of an issue arising from somewhere other than mathematics. Getting the right numbers alone is not “good enough” – you must understand how questions from applications translate into statistical questions, and you will be required provide proper interpretations of results.

Advice: Diligently and tenaciously practice solving problems and get help when your practice is ineffective. Your goal is to be confident that you can successfully solve the next problem.

Frequently (and Infrequently) Asked Questions

The instructor’s quick responses to the questions below, and others, are at

How are grades determined? How can an exam score be something like 84.8%? Will there be "pop" quizzes? A certain % of the final grade is for "homework assignments and quizzes." How is this computed? Is “extra credit” available? Is there a "curve" on exams? How is a curve determined? Some of the homework assignments and quizzes are graded differently than others. Why is this, and is it fair? My assignment/quiz score is really good, but my test average is not. Is this fair? Is there anyone who understands what the book is saying? Is tutoring available for this course? How fast will my work be returned? What's the policy on late homework? What about "take home exams"? Can I dispute the instructor's grading? Is it possible to take the final exam early? What kind of grades does the instructor give? Can I get Minitab on my own PC? What needs to be known about academic honesty? What about missed classes? Are late homework, missed quizzes and missed exams preventable? What's reasonable in-class behavior? What about questions I have about the material? What can be done about unfair treatment? What about complaints? I'm doing poorly -- the pressure's on -- if only I had a little more time. Can I get a grade of incomplete and finish the work next semester? I’m thinking about leaving a message for the instructor about my personal situation. What can I expect? Why doesn’t the instructor reply to my message? Can I take the final exam early? I’m not happy with my final grade. What can I do? I have problems taking tests…what do I do?