May 20, 2013

Graham, Norma
[PSYC W1610] Statistics for Behavioral Scientists

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

My overall experience of the class: not bad, somewhat enjoyable.

As far as professors go, there is a lot to be said about Professor Graham. Her teaching is quite often very confusing, though, if I'd paid closer attention to her lectures, I'm sure I would have gleaned a lot more information for the multiple choice part of the tests. Not only does she put up very complicated diagrams and difficult theories about the material that you're learning, but also her handwriting is absolutely atrocious and difficult to read...so I often just gave up on paying attention to the lecture. I personally found that she got very absorbed by a single example and would attempt to explain it, spending too little time teaching the simple concepts and the mechanics behind certain statistical tests (which, I felt, would generally be much more helpful for the tests).

As a person, however, Professor Graham is absolutely wonderful. She is sweet, understanding, patient, and always has the best interests of her students in her mind. She and her TAs (James and Travis) are always offering office hours and review sessions for students who may have difficulties with anything in the class, as well as being open ears for students' questions about absolutely anything about psychology or graduate school. Because of these aspects of her personality, statistics with Professor Graham was much more pleasant than I anticipated.

Also, the TAs James and Travis are awesome! They were very helpful and were always very willing to help students out.

My advice:
Having taken AP Statistics in the past, I was essentially relying on my past knowledge at all times to carry my weight in the course and using the textbook for the class to refresh the information I had once learned. In any case, the textbook for the class is really, really good (Bock, Velleman, and DeVeaux). Also, for people have little to none statistics experience, I would recommend really learning the foundational aspects of stats, because after a certain point, you're just learning different tests which essentially follow the same mechanical format with a few adjustments to the statements of the conclusions.

Workload:

She recently revamped the class, so the exams are somewhat more manageable within time constraints.

3 exams, 1 final (Allowed a cheat sheet of varying lengths throughout the course to help you!)
+ Pop quizzes to ensure class attendance (very little portion of your grade)
+ 10 Stata labs

Depending on your past statistics ability, I think that the amount of time you invest in the class could vary. The problem sets she assigns are not mandatory, but they definitely help prepare you for the exams. The exams are somewhat strenuous, particularly because most people are in the classroom racing to finish the long exams. The exams consist of a multiple choice section which is primarily about the (difficult) statistical theory that I think she probably covered in class when I wasn't paying much attention, and the other section is primarily statistical calculations (which is where I got most of my points). Since the exams are pretty long, there wasn't much chance to check my calculations, but silly calculation errors really don't hurt you that much in the long run if you can demonstrate that you actually know how to perform the test. My final was 19 pages, one of which was extra credit... a pretty long final...

In my opinion, the Stata labs were easy points. I don't know why all the reviewers here seem so angry and perplexed by these labs. I personally didn't find them to be very difficult, and, for the most part, they could be completed within the 50 minutes during your lab section. If you didn't finish (which I often didn't because I'm somewhat of a perfectionist), there is Stata on the computers in Butler and Lerner, and you can stop in to the TA's office hours for help if you're still confused by the assignments.