Course objectives

Students will become proficient and be able to describe in detail the following aspects:

  1. Assessing and describing and scientific argumentation.
  2. Defining the underlying constructs for appropriate statistical techniques.
  3. Describing and graphing data.
  4. Explaining and drawing inferences from data.
  5. Gaining real world experience using R to analyze data sets.
  6. Obtaining an understanding of ethical, social, political, and cultural issues confronted by those who perform statistical analyses.
  7. Understanding and critically assessing differing analytical methods.


Is the course content difficult?

You’ve probably heard an answer like this before: At times some of the material can be dense. Well that isn’t much of a response. Difficulty is not the issue here since as humans with differing educational background, we will have strengths in some areas more than others. Instead the question is can you identify areas that need strengthened and communicate them? If you can, then you have a good shot at succeeding in this class.

Is R difficult?

Learning R can be especially challenging at first—it’s akin to learning a new language like Spanish or even mathematics. Even experienced R users get frustrated…and so much so that some of us have swear jars. However as silly as it sounds one of the best feelings is to overcome a roadblock. With that said, if you find yourself getting irritated, try the following: take a break, go let some frustration out, sleep, discuss with a peer, etc. If you are at your limit, take a few breaths and contact me!

What if I’m a Visual/Aural/Read-write/Kinesthetic learner…

You’re not one of those or even any of those. There’s not one accepted study that supports one type of learning style over another. In fact, there aren’t even any studies that support these four classifications either. You learn the best using multiple approaches. At one time I denoted multiple papers to support this, but recently a fantastic video was released and many of the sources I listed were also cited so enjoy this instead:

What if I find a mistake?

Tell me! I strive to be error free but unfortunately like everyone else, make silly mistakes including grammar and spelling errors as well!

What are the course materials?

There are four optional texts and two software packages necessary for this course. With that said, you will receive some supplementary materials in the course as well.


We’ll rely on the texts below:

  • Frankfort-Nachmias, C. and Leon-Guerrero, A. (2020). Social Statistical for a Diverse Society (9th ed.). Sage.1

  • American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

There will occasionally be additional articles and videos to read and watch. When this happens, links to these other resources will be included on the content page for that session.


R and RStudio

You will do all of your analysis with the open source (and free!) statistical programming language R. You will use RStudio as the main program to access R. Think of R as an engine and RStudio as a car dashboard — R handles all the calculations produces the actual statistics and graphical output, while RStudio provides a nice interface for running R code. Please note that

you do not need to have any programming experience to use R

R is free, but it can sometimes be a task to install and configure. To make life easier, you can opt to use the free service, which lets you run a full instance of RStudio in your web browser.

The service is convenient, but please keep in mind that it can be slow and is not designed to handle large data sets or more complicated analysis and graphics. You also cannot customize much with Over the course of the term, you’ll want to get around to installing R, RStudio, and other R packages on your computer and wean yourself off of

You canfind instructions for installing R, RStudio, and all the tidyverse packages here


Data science and statistical programming can be difficult. Computers are stupid and its always the tiny errors in your coding can result in tons of headache. People working in any syntax based software package at any level experience this!

But there are multiple resources both online and locally that are available. Please take a moment to go through this slideshow for a short description of the main outlets.

You can also use this link to view a larger version of slideshow in a new window or download it as a PDF.

To move back and forth, use and and toggle fullscreen by pressing F. Just press O at any point in your slideshow and a display of all slides will appear. Click on a slide to go there or press O to exit. For more options, press H for help.

Assignments and Grades

You can find descriptions for all the assignments on the tasks page2.

10R TrainingData Camp
20QuizzesIn Class
25Regular ExamsIn Class
25FinalExamIn Class

A90 – 100%
B80 – 89%
C70 – 79%
D60 – 69%
F< 60%


If you submit your work in Rmarkdown, you may earn up to an extra five percent on any task (this includes quizzes and exams that aren’t focused on R). Additionally in lieu of showing step by step work, you may submit R code instead. In these instances, both the code used and output must be presented but you still must provide a written or typed interpretation in context.3

Your Hours

Please watch this video:

Your hours (formerly known as office hours) are set times dedicated to you the student!4). This means that I will be in my office or at home waiting for you to come by talk to me remotely with whatever questions you have. This is the best and easiest way to find me and the best chance for discussing class material and concerns.

Because of the pandemic, we cannot meet in person. I can meet you online via Zoom. You can request a meeting through either e-mail or Slack.

Conduct and Expectations

Here are the rules, expectations, and policies that I came up with or stole from other professors:

  • Late work: Barring the in-class tasks (e.g. exams, quizzes, etc.) and the project, past due deliverable will only be accepted up to 48 hours after the initial time and due date. For each full day an assignment is late, 10% of the final grade will be deducted. All submissions must be made via eCampus. There are no exceptions to this policy. Please note that I will not accept coursework by email or any other means.

  • Participation: Please ensure that you are engaged and participate in class. Engagement is mostly defined by you — if that means commenting and answering questions - great; if it means sitting quietly and being focused - also great; but if it means being being disrespectful or flaking off - not so great.

  • Justifications: On any submission, you must justify any assertion. I don’t know what you know so its your job to provide all of the necessary evidence to convince me that you do know what you say you know. While you’ve probably heard this multiple times over your life, think of it this way: if someone tells you that not only is the Earth flat, the core is actually made out of tiramisu and moscato, the first question you should be asking is what’s your evidence? possibly followed by is the core delicious?.

  • Rubrics: While there are valid reasons for the utilization of a rubric in undergraduate classes, at the graduate level, I do not (often) provide nor use a such an item to guide or evaluate your submission due to four primary concerns:

    1. When writing anything in academia that is pivotal (a thesis, dissertation, journal article, report, etc.), a rubric isn’t often provided.
    2. If you write within the limitations as defined in a rubric, then creativity may be stifled (i.e. writing to the rubric rather than constructing a product from the ground up).
    3. Feedback can only be given along the criteria listed within a rubric which limits your learning as a student and constrains me as the instructor.
    4. Unless you are in a very specific area, the real world does not use rubrics!

  • Technology use: Use phones, computers, etc. responsibly. We’re all adults most of the time.

  • My philosophy:

    1. Just assume that all submissions are formal and must be submitted with the appropriate use of language, grammar, syntax, etc. and follow standard APA 7th edition formatting guidelines where applicable.
    2. People who live in a land of rainbows and ponies by being easily offended by content, believe their work to be flawless, or are generally unable to handle criticism should consider looking at another course. If you care about data, fieldwork, and learning a highly marketable skill set, then you’ve come to the right place.
    3. There is a great deal of content in this course and you will likely struggle with some at times. Given that, there is also something to be said about the satisfaction a person gets when figuring something out, but nowhere is it written that has to be on your own. You may find that a nudge here or there elicits the same feeling so please reach out for help.

Learning and knowledge during a pandemic

When course objectives are written explicitly and clearly, they provide the information you need to figure out what a student should be able to do by the end of a given term. In fact, professors often test your proficiency in an area through multiple assessments such as exams, papers, presentations, etc where you are essentially asked to show us what you have learned. However learning is not the same as knowledge .

To save you from a long philosophical narrative on epistemology, in a nutshell we humans aren’t that good at evaluating a person’s knowledge mainly because its not a well-defined concept. With that said, we believe one indicator of knowledge is in a person’s ability to successfully explain a high level concept in such a way that the lay person can understand it. Every so often, consider asking yourself this:

Can I describe whatever using conversational language so that a child could understand it?

On top of what’s noted above and I’m not sure how to articulate this any better - life sucks right now! It is likely by now you know people who have been hospitalized or passed away, lost their jobs, and/or tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally stresses in life are up. Given this, here is my promise to you:

If you keep an open line, show initiative, and let me know ahead of time if something is going not according to plan, I will do everything I can to help you learn everything you were hoping to learn from this class

Course Policies

We will also follow WVU’s Code of Conduct but generally be nice, be honest, don’t cheat, stay in touch, and just be a good human.

This syllabus reflects a plan for the term, but circumstances and plans change so deviations may become necessary as we move along. Note that I reserve the right to alter or amend this syllabus and will send notifications if course tasks are affected.

COVID-19 statement

WVU is committed to maintaining a safe learning environment for all students, faculty, and staff. Should campus operations change because of health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that this course will move to a fully online delivery format. If that occurs, students will be advised of technical and/or equipment requirements, including remote proctoring software.

In a face-to-face environment, our commitment to safety requires students, staff, and instructors to observe the social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines set by the University at all times. While in class, students will sit in assigned seats when applicable and wear the required PPE. Should a student forget to bring the required PPE, PPE will be available in the building for students to acquire. Students who fail to comply will be dismissed from the classroom for the class period and may be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for further sanctions.

If a student becomes sick or is required to quarantine during the semester, they should notify the instructor. The student should work with the instructor to develop a plan to receive the necessary course content, activities, and assessments to complete the course learning outcomes.

Psychological and Psychiatric Services

Life at WVU can be complicated and challenging, especially during a pandemic! You might feel overwhelmed, experience anxiety or depression, or struggle with relationships or family responsibilities. Psychological and Psychiatric Services provides free, confidential support for students who are struggling with mental health and emotional challenges. The office is staffed by professional counselors and psychiatrists who are attuned to the needs of all types of college and professional students. Please do not hesitate to contact them for assistance—getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do.


If you or anyone you know may be at-risk such as those listed here, please make a CARE referral. You may do so directly at the main WVU CARE TEAM site.

Lauren’s Promise

I will listen and believe you if someone is threatening you

Lauren McCluskey, a 21-year-old honors student athlete, was murdered on October 22, 2018 by a man she briefly dated on the University of Utah campus. We must all take action to ensure that this never happens again.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911 or the Campus Police at 304-293-3136.

If you are experiencing sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking, please report it to me and I will connect you to resources or call/text a private Title IX On-Call Line 304-906-9930.

Any form of sexual harassment or violence will not be excused or tolerated at West Virginia University. WVU has instituted procedures to respond to violations of these laws and standards, programs aimed at the prevention of such conduct, and intervention on behalf of the victims.

Academic Integrity

The integrity of the classes offered by any academic institution solidifies the foundation of its mission and cannot be sacrificed to expediency, ignorance, or blatant fraud. Therefore, I will enforce rigorous standards of academic integrity in all aspects and assignments of this course. For the detailed policy of West Virginia University regarding the definitions of acts considered to fall under academic dishonesty and possible ensuing sanctions, please see the West Virginia University Academic Catalog at Should you have any questions about possibly improper research citations or references, or any other activity that may be interpreted as an attempt at academic dishonesty, please see me before the assignment is due to discuss the matter.

Inclusivity Statement

The West Virginia University community is committed to creating and fostering a positive learning and working environment based on open communication, mutual respect, and inclusion.

If you are a person with a disability and anticipate needing any type of accommodation in order to participate in this class, please advise me and make appropriate arrangements with the Office of Accessibility Services 304-293-6700.

For more information on West Virginia University’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, please see

Incomplete Grades

Students who want to be considered for an Incomplete must apply to their instructor prior to the end of the term. If the instructor agrees, the instructor and the student must negotiate the conditions under which the grade of I will be changed to a letter grade and sign a contract. The date to submit the incomplete work should not be set beyond the last day of class of the following semester. If the student does not complete the terms of contract, then the instructor should submit a grade of F. All incomplete contracts must be filed with the department and Dean’s Office. See the policy at [Students who want to be considered for an Incomplete must apply to their instructor prior to the end of the term. If the instructor agrees, the instructor and the student must negotiate the conditions under which the grade of I will be changed to a letter grade and sign a contract. The date to submit the incomplete work should not be set beyond the last day of class of the following semester. If the student does not complete the terms of contract, then the instructor should submit a grade of F. All incomplete contracts must be filed with the department and Dean’s Office. See the policy at

Sale of Course Materials

All course materials, including lectures, class notes, quizzes, exams, handouts, presentations, and other materials provided to students for this course are protected under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Please review the sharing and editing restrictions prior to distributing or amending any material on this site. As such, the unauthorized purchase or sale of these materials may result in disciplinary sanctions under the Campus Student Code. Basically you can share what you like but don’t try to make a buck.

Student Evaluation of Instruction (SEI)

Effective teaching is a primary mission of West Virginia University. Student evaluation of instruction provides the university and the instructor with feedback about your experiences in the course for review and course improvement. Your participation in the evaluation of course instruction is both strongly encouraged and highly valued. Results are strictly confidential, axnonymous, and not available to the instructor until after final grades are released by Admissions and Records. Information about how you can complete this evaluation will be provided later.

University Attendance Policy

At West Virginia University, class attendance contributes significantly to academic success. Students who attend classes regularly tend to earn higher grades and have higher passing rates in courses. Excessive absences may jeopardize students’ grades or even their ability to continue in their courses. There is a strong correlation between regular class attendance and academic success.

Course Netiquette

The basic premise is that the etiquette expected of students in the online environment is the same as that expected in a classroom. Common courtesy is the guiding rule of Internet communications. Be prepared to communicate effectively when taking an online course. Following these simple netiquette rules in your online class or education environment will ensure your success:

  • Include a professional salutation. In this case, “Hello Dr. Roy” or “Dear Dr. Roy” is appropriate.
  • Include a proper ending such as “Thank you” or “With regards.” Then type in your full name.
  • Never type in ALL CAPS, because it reads as if you ARE SHOUTING AT PEOPLE.
  • Act as professionally, via your writing, as you would in a face to face classroom.
  • Refrain from inappropriate language and derogatory or personal attacks.
  • Do not dominate any discussion. Give other students the opportunity to join in the discussion.
  • Disagree with ideas but avoid challenges that may be interpreted as a personal attack.
  • Check that you are replying to the specific person you intend, and not to the entire class.
  • Never give your password to another person.
  • Respect the virtual classroom. Never forward in-class communications or posts by others outside of this virtual space.
  • Never spam your classmates.
  • If you quote someone’s previous post, only quote enough to make your point.

Be aware of the University’s Academic Integrity and Dishonesty Policy You can review the rules, regulations, and procedures concerning student conduct and discipline for the main campus of West Virginia University, at

Response Time

I generally respond to Slack queries in the same day while responses to emails and discussion posts are within 48 hours, except during holidays. Often, I will reply much more quickly but you should not count on a immediate. Please plan accordingly so that you don’t miss deadlines! I generally return assignments within one to two weeks after a final submission date.

Technical Requirements

Students need to have access to a computer for word processing, e-mail and access to eCampus. Access to the Internet is necessary for completion of this course. Run the Browser Check. This tool will check that you are using a supported Internet browser and have a valid Java version installed. The required technical skills to participate in this course are:

  1. Navigate the web
  2. Use email with attachments
  3. Create and submit files in commonly used word processing program formats
  4. Copy and paste
  5. Download and install software
  6. Consult software tutorials and other online sources as a method of learning software features
  7. Use syntax when necessary

Notice that programming is not on here!

Technical Support

Technical support regarding your use of eCampus is available by contacting 304-293-4444 (telephone), 1-877-327-9260 (toll free number), (email), and/or by going to (website).

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. You can download a watermarked scan of the first two chapters from the textbook website ↩︎

  2. Note if you have an earned average of an A prior to the final exam, you do not need to take it! ↩︎

  3. Note that certain items will explicitly ask for work to be shown by hand. In these cases, work in R will not be accepted ↩︎

  4. There is some misunderstanding about what office hours actually are! For some reason that is not clear, particular graduate students have noted in my course evaluations that they believe these to be the times I should not be disturbed. This is not just a local issue!, which is the exact opposite of what they are for ↩︎