On this page is an electronic version of the course syllabus. Updates to the syllabus will be posted here, but not updated on the original PDF.

Syllabus last updated: August 10, 2018


The Applied Statistics course provides an introduction to statistical analysis for doctoral-level students. The course focuses on two big themes:

  1. Making Rational Choices
  2. Discerning Practical Impact

Making Rational Choices

Statistical analysis is all about reasoning under uncertainty. Given that we almost never have complete information, how do we make the wisest decisions possible using the available evidence? This isn't a simple process and is one we'll explore throughout the semester.

Discerning Practical Impact

In addition to making decisions, we also want to have a sense for the potential practical impact of the decision. For instance does a new learning strategy or a new policy decision really have much practical impact? Strangely enough an analysis can find "significant differences" that nonetheless are lacking in terms of practical significance. This is a second theme we'll revisit many times throughout the semester.

Course Website

This syllabus provides an introduction to the main issues and expectations of the course. You will find extended and detailed information, plus all your learning materials, at the course website. The course website address is:

Please bookmark this website in your browser. You will need to request login access to enter the website. I will email the class with details about the login form and getting formal access to the website.

The course website serves several purposes including:

  • Providing a way to download/view all the learning materials
  • Links to essential software and other resources
  • An easy way for all of us to interact via electronic discussions

One key section for you will always be the Due page which provides a detailed listing of course deadlines and assignment links. The Learn section is your gateway to the nine learning modules and their contents.

Class Sessions

We explore several topics in this course. All the specific learning materials will be posted on the relevant page in the course website's Learn section. Learning materials include audio presentations, video presentations, articles (both in PDF format and web articles), and some other materials. Below is an outline of the dates when the class meets along with the primary topic for that learning module.

Module Start Class
1 Design Aug 13 Aug 18
2 Variation Aug 19 Aug 25
3 Effect Size Aug 26 Sep 8
4 ANalysis Of VAriance Sep 9 Sep 22
5 Inference Sep 23 Oct 6
6 F-Test Oct 7 Oct 20
7 t-Test Oct 21 Nov 3
8 Correlation Nov 4 Nov 17
9 Regression Nov 18 Dec 1
Final Projects Dec 11


The instructor is Mathew Mitchell. I teach a variety of courses in the Learning & Instruction doctoral program including: Multimedia Learning, Motivation, and Creativity. I served as the Co-Director of USF's Center for Teaching Excellence for 6 years. Currently I also serve as the program coordinator for the Educational Technology master's program.


You can contact me in several ways, but the best is by using email: I will respond to emails within 24 business hours. This does not include Friday evening through Sunday, or holidays.

Office Hours

My regular office hours are 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It’s best to prearrange a meeting with me. We can easily arrange other meeting times. Typically the only days that are difficult for me to meet are the Friday of a teaching weekend and the Monday following a teaching weekend. In addition I am happy to meet with you via Zoom (video conferencing software) individually or with small groups of students. You can download your own copy of Zoom (professional license for free) at:

Goals & Outcomes

I first describe the broad learning goals for the course, then provide the specific learning outcomes. Finally I provide the percentage weight of various outcomes and other factors (attendance, participation) on your final course grade.

  1. thinking deeply about statistical concepts
  2. finding extra support to enhance your understanding
  3. the ability to effectively communicate statistical results

Each one of these course goals is described in more detail below.

Thinking Deeply: One challenge is to use the learning materials for the course in order to learn foundational ideas and techniques. Perhaps more important is the ability to actively reflect on your current understanding: what you understand, what you are utterly confused about, and what issues/questions you are simply unsure about.

By reflecting, and then communicating the results of your reflections, you are able to become a more powerful learner. Even better it will allow the instructor to better tailor the course learning experience to address your specific learning gaps.

Finding Extra Support: The internet has changed a lot of things in our lives: much for the better, some for the worse. Statistics is a course taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels at almost every university in the world. Some of those instructors post handouts, or written documents, or videos, or visual models, and much more to the web. Your expectation should be that there exists a variety of statistical learning resources on the web: and some of those resources address your learning unresolved questions better than the prescribed course learning materials.

If you have effectively reflected on your own understanding after using the course materials, then you will have identified a small number of issues about which you are confused, or about which you'd like to learn more. Use the internet to try to find effective answers/explanations to your confusions or interests.

Effectively Communicate: When doing research you'll have a dedicated statistical analysis program do your calculations for you. Yet you still need to understand those numbers, you need to put them into the context of your study, and you need to communicate those results effectively. This includes both presenting the results but also interpreting those results in a sound manner given the norms of educational research.


  1. You will demonstrate your ability to reflect on your understanding of statistical ideas and techniques by writing a series of 8 reflections over the course of the semester on a variety of topics.
  2. You will demonstrate your ability to find extra support for your statistical understanding by developing written responses to 8 statistical web quest challenges.
  3. You will demonstrate your ability to effectively communicate a statistical analysis by developing a research report in two phases over the semester that includes a problem statement, methods, results, and discussion sections.


Grading is straightforward in this course. There are a 100 points total for all of the required activities. 90+ points puts you in the “A” grade range and 80+ points puts you in the “B” range.

  • Reports: 40 points
  • Reflections: 25 points
  • Quests: 15 points
  • Attendance: 10 points
  • Participation: 10 points

Attendance is based on your presence at the live class sessions plus timely completion of any online class sessions. Participation includes not only what you do in the live class, but the comments you provide to student reflections and web quests.

Attendance and participation are absolutely necessary in this course. There are several aspects of the course experience that will happen uniquely during the live class sessions. If you miss two class sessions you will fail the course. Miss one class session and you will receive a point penalty. There is no “extra credit” or makeups for missing a class session in this course.

Learning Materials

There are several learning materials you’ll be using in this course. Below are short descriptions of the content you'll typically find in each subsection.


For every learning module you will have an introductory audio presentation. Typically these presentations are long: over 45 minutes. For convenience they have been divided into chapters. In turn this makes it easy for you to listen to chunks of the presentation at a time. No need to listen to the full presentation in one go unless that's how you work best. These presentations are accompanied with a PDF handout.


Most learning modules will feature a small number of video presentations. Typically each video is short: under 7 minutes.


Most learning modules will also provide some readings. Some of these will be PDFs, others will be web-based articles.

Optional Textbook. There is no textbook for this course. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Instead we will use PDFs that you can download. Many students these days choose to read, and annotate, PDFs on a computer or tablet. Do whatever is best for you. I understand some students like to have a real textbook. Well, you can do that, but the text is optional.

The textbook I highly recommend if you want a textbook by your side is Richard Shavelson's Statistical Reasoning for the Behavioral Sciences (3rd edition only). The text costs $150 new, but you can find used versions from $25 and up. It's a great supplemental purchase. Check it out at Amazon using this link: Shavelson Textbook at Amazon.


In 1996 Richard Shavelson published the third edition of his textbook, Statistical Reasoning for the Behavioral Sciences. To accompany the text Maria Ruiz-Primo and I (Mathew Mitchell), along with Richard, created the Student Guide for Statistical Reasoning for the Behavioral Sciences 3rd Edition. One of the features of this student guide was a series of statistical playgrounds which were dedicated MS Excel spreadsheet products that did calculations on small samples for the key topics in the textbook.

Over time (20+ years) things have changed quite a bit. One of the downsides of the playgrounds is they were spreadsheet-based. They worked well, they were user-friendly, but still too many students tended to not feel "warm and fuzzy" about using spreadsheets (though it was definitely a step up in friendliness from using traditional statistical software). During the summer of 2017 I have re-conceptualized and reformatted the "playground" idea. The result is a series of web-based statistical playgrounds.

You will learn more about how the playgrounds work, and use them for several in-class activities, during the semester.


For your Statistical Reports project, and for several in-class activities, you will be using spreadsheets to help with your calculations. I will demonstrate how to do things with MS Excel but the steps are exactly the same, or very similar, with the following products:

  • Apple Numbers
  • Google Sheets

Thus you have 3 options for the spreadsheet program you use. You do not need to be a spreadsheet expert to begin the class. Nor will you be an expert at the end. But you'll be able to do key calculations for statistics using spreadsheets that will probably serve you well long after the course has ended.


All course assignments are to be written using the American Psychological Association format (6th edition) using grammar and syntax appropriate for and expected of doctoral-level students.

Some students may wish to obtain editorial assistance with grammar, syntax, and style, which is acceptable. Editorial assistance for content is unacceptable. If you need help with the former, the Writing Center is located in Cowell Hall 227 on the main campus. Phone (415) 422-6713 to arrange for an appointment. The Writing Center will arrange for a writing coach to work with you at no cost.

Learning, Writing, and Speaking Centers

The Learning, Writing, and Speaking Centers at USF provide individualized support to assist you in better understanding course material and to aid you on your path to success. Services are free and include one-on-one tutoring, group tutoring, and one-on-one Academic Skills Coaching appointments to discuss effective study strategies. The Learning Center supports over 80 courses each semester. The Writing Center helps students develop their writing skills in rhetoric, organization, style, and structure, through one-on-one interactive conferences. The Speaking Center helps students prepare for public speaking - including speeches, oral presentations, team presentations, and visual aid demonstrations. International students may also contact us to learn more about communicating with professors and general academic study skills. The Learning, Writing, and Speaking Centers are located on the Lower Level of Gleeson Library (G03). Please contact them at (415) 422-6713 for further assistance or visit: to make an appointment.


Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, students with disabilities who will need reasonable accommodations for this course should contact Disability Related Services at (415) 422-2613 within the first two weeks of this course. Students with Learning Disabilities may contact Learning Disability Services at (415) 422-6876.

ADA Considerations

This website tries to meet ADA standards. In particular to adhere to the suggested guidelines provided by the National Center on Universal Design for Learning. These ideas are often referred to as UDL guidelines.

There are two situations where it is not affordable for me to be UDL compliant. They are: (1) audio-only presentations and (2) video presentations. It is easy to have the audio transcribed and videos transcribed or close-captioned. The problem is the process for doing this costs a lot of money for an individual (i.e. me). On the other hand the USF Student Disabilities Services is set up to solve these kinds of needs. I'll be glad to work closely with the Student Disabilities Center, but if you are personally impacted please make sure to set up an appointment with them as soon as possible and request these services.

Dr. Mitchell

Mathew Mitchell is a professor in the Learning and Instruction Department at the USF School of Education. He offers courses in both the Learning & Instruction doctoral program and the Educational Technology master's program. He regularly teaches Applied Statistics, Cognitive Psychology, and Motivation at the doctoral level. His master's level courses include: Storytelling Lab, Media Lab, and Web Design Lab.


All images used in the top banner area of this website, across various pages, have been freely downloaded from

© 2018 Mathew Mitchell Contact Me

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