You are responsible for the information on this page; be sure to read it & refer back to it.



9 out of 10 Seniors Recommend this Freshman Seminar: Statistics in the Real World

ID1 (section10) -- Pomona College – Fall 2010

TuTh 11-12:15, Millikan 211


Office Hours: Mon 1:30-3:30p, Wed 9:30-11:30a


ID1 Intern: Kate Brieger


Office Hours:  Sunday 7-9pm

       Millikan 209 (math lounge)




The Course.  The main idea behind this course is to get the participants (that’s you) to leave in December questioning every number you come across: in the media, at sporting events, when researching for another class, when carrying out your own research, etc.  Certainly there are some good numbers out there, but I hope that you will start asking yourself questions like “where did that come from?”, “what if you looked at it from another angle?”, “what if we knew the rest of the information/data?”  We’ll look at sources that range from journalism to scholarly writing to fiction, and we’ll see how statistics are used and misused.  As in many ID1 courses, the goal is for you to become critical inquirers.


In class: please no phones or computers.


Daily.  In class we’ll mostly be discussing the readings (which can be found in the course schedule.)  You will each be responsible for leading the class on two different occasions: once to contextualize the readings and once to lead a discussion on the readings.  You are welcome to run the class in any of a variety of formats (i.e., putting students in groups to brainstorm, asking each student to respond to a question, asking provocative questions, etc.)  It will be very helpful for you to talk with me before your assigned day so that we can devise a strategy and a set of topics/questions for your discussion.  We will not discuss every word that you read, but you should complete all the readings (some of which will be used in the papers) and be prepared to discuss them.


Even if you are not assigned to lead a discussion, you will be expected to participate and contribute to the discussion every day.  Class attendance is not optional.  You comments in class will be evaluated on how well they demonstrate familiarity with the reading and how they acknowledge and promote discussion by others.  If you are one of the more talkative students, try to encourage others to contribute as well.   If you have an idea that is somewhat off topic, write it down, and we’ll come back to it.  Let’s try to keep the discussions moderately linear and on-topic.



contextualizing is not as easy as it looks.  Remember that we have all done the readings, so you don’t need to rehash the details.  We would, however, appreciate your overall thoughts on the readings, and, in particular, how the readings go together (or not).   Your goal in contextualizing is to set the stage for the discussion: think big (picture).   You should google at least one thing (for example, the author, the NYT headlines on that day in history, etc.) to share with the class.  By 5pm the day before you contextualize, you should send an email to me, Kate, and your fellow discusser describing what you’ll say in the next class (you should plan to talk for only a few minutes).


discussing is probably harder than contextualizing.  You will be responsible for keeping the discussion going for ~45 minutes.  You should ask open ended questions (i.e., they can’t be answered with “yes” or “no” or “Frank did it”).  You will also be responsible for sending the discussion questions via email to me, Kate, and your fellow contextualizer by 5pm the day before you discuss.  Additionally, you have to meet with me the day before you are leading the discussion so that we can talk about what you’ll be discussing.


talking points (typed) will be due at the end of each class session.  They should reflect what you got out of the readings.  You might consider the big picture, interesting concepts, questions you had on the reading, reflections after having read, etc.  You will not be graded on the write-up of your talking points; I will simply note your level of participation and engagement with the readings.


Writing.  As you know, this course has a large writing component.  The majority of your grade will come from the writing you do.  You will write 2 or 3 formal papers and a research paper.  Additionally, you will be assigned weekly informal writings.


Everyone should have gotten a copy of Pocket Reference for Writers by Toby Fulwiler and Alan Hayakawa.  The text will help answer questions you have about how to write or use grammar appropriately.  Please be sure to use a spell-checker on the text before turning in writing assignments.  We will use the APA style for all referencing.


The library’s website has some nice information on citations:


formal papers will follow the outline of the course (one per topic.)  For each paper you will submit an abstract, then a final version, then a rewrite of the final version.  Kate and I will give you comments on your paper; remember, our comments will never be comprehensive and can only be as helpful as your paper is good.  For example, if your final version of the paper is difficult to read because it is full of grammatical errors, We may comment mostly on those.  If the rewrite fixes all of the grammatical errors, the paper still may receive a “C” grade due to poor understanding of the paper topic (on which we were unable to comment for the first paper because of the grammatical errors).


Papers should be in 12-point font, have one-inch margins, and be double spaced.  Include your name, the date, the course, and a title on every paper.  Please do not include a separate title page or use fancy binding.


The formal papers will be submitted electronically onto Sakai.  Because I will be receiving papers from the entire class, the file name identifying your paper should include your name, the paper number, and whether it is your final version or the rewrite.


research paper will include library research and primary sources. More later. 


informal writings will be assigned regularly as short (one-half- to one-page) reflections on the readings we have done.  These writings will not be graded on spelling or grammar (unless poor spelling/grammar make them unreadable).  The readings will act as preparation for class discussion; you may be called upon to summarize your reflection.  You will turn them in at the end of class the day they are due.  You should feel free to be creative and to stretch out of your comfort zone when thinking about the readings and writing your reflections.  The grades for the informal writings will be given based on effort and participation.


Informal writings should also be in 12-point font with one-inch margins and double spacing.


I will give you more information on papers and submitting as the semester goes on.


Reading.  There will be a substantial amount of reading in this class (schedule).  The source of the readings are:


* Huntley – hopefully you already know where this is

* – I was unable to order Blood Evidence for you.  Additionally, it would have cost you a lot more had I ordered it through Huntley. has *many* used copies, so I recommend you get it there.  Let me know if anyone doesn’t know how to use Amazon. 

* Sakai – most of your readings will be available electronically via Sakai. 

* Electronic Journal – some of your readings will be available online via the library’s electronic journal database.  This database is fairly straightforward to search, but you will also get an orientation to this and other databases on your library orientation day.

* Library – a few of your readings will be in journals (not electronically available) in the library stacks.  You will learn more about the library at your library orientation day.


Writing Center.  (in Pearsons 010) offers students free, one-on-one consultations at any stage of the writing process — from generating a thesis and structuring an argument to fine-tuning a draft.  The Writing Fellows — Pomona students majoring in subjects including Economics, Biology, English, Politics, and Religious Studies — will work with you on an assignment from any discipline.  Consultations are available by appointment, which you can make online:


The Writing Center also offers drop-in hours on Sunday and Wednesday evenings in Mudd-Blaisdell.


Academic Honesty.  You have been given a copy of the Pomona College Statement on Academic Honesty.  In particular, we will discuss appropriate ways to cite sources.  However, you are expected to abide by all the principles in the document.  The basic idea is that you should never present other’s ideas as your own!  Please contact me if you have any questions.


Grades.  Your final grade will be calculated as follows.

            Formal papers              65%

            Informal papers            15%

            Leading discussions      10%

            Class Participation        10%