Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Geoffrey R Loftus
PSYCH 317
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Probability and Statistics for Psychology

Probability theory as a model for scientific inference. Probabilistic variables and experimental outcomes, conditional probability, binomial and related distributions, experiments as samples, statistics and sampling distributions, the normal distribution, confidence intervals, problems of estimation from experiments. Prerequisite: minimum 2.5 grade in PSYCH 209; 2.0 in either MATH 124, MATH 134, or MATH 144. Offered: AW.

Class description

Probability theory, probability distributions, hypothesis testing, sampling distributions,confidence intervals.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A knowledge of Excel, while not technically required will cut the amount of time you spend doing class work by about a factor of 5 and will considerably increase the ease with which you learn the materials. Knowledge of Excel will almost certainly result in a higher grade.

Student learning goals

A facility with, and good intuitions about, numerical reasoning

A good basic knowledge of probability theory

An understanding of why the practice of hypothesis testing is a tool of the devil

An understanding of the relation between observed sample statistics (e.g., a sample mean) and the corresponding population parameters (e.g., the mean of the population from which the sample had been drawn)

An understanding of how to estimate population parameters, particularly using confidence intervals around sample statistics

General method of instruction

Lecture, questions by the Instructor to the class and vice versa.

Recommended preparation

IMPORTANT NOTE: A knowledge of Excel, while not technically required will cut the amount of time you spend doing class work by about a factor of 5 and will considerably increase the ease with which you learn the materials. Knowledge of Excel will almost certainly result in a higher grade.

Class assignments and grading

HW problems assigned every two weeks. The common wisdom that has accrued over the past 40 years is that these assignments are long and difficult. The time to do the assignments and the tedium associated with them will be vastly reduced if you use Excel to do them. Data to be used in HW assignments are, for the most part, posted in the form of Excel spreadsheets.

There are four midterm exams -- roughly one every two weeks. Exams are open-book and open-note. They are graded on a 0-100 scale, but are supplemented with corresponding HW grades which are on a 0-5 scale. Lowest exam grade is dropped. Mean or median midterm grades are computed and whichever "average" is highest is used. This average midterm score is averaged with the Final Exam score with weights of 75% and 25% with the 75% going to whichever his highest, average midterm score or Final Exam score.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Geoffrey R Loftus
Date: 11/14/2011