P553: Advanced Statistics in Psychology
Fall 2011; Tues/Thurs, 4-5:15pm

PDF Version of Syllabus

Instructor Information
Instructor: Dr. Michael Jones
Office: PY 370
Office Hours: By appointment
Office Phone: 856-1490
Email: jonesmn@indiana.edu

Associate Instructors
Drew Hendrickson
Office Hours:
Email: athendri@indiana.edu

Devin Burns
Office Hours:
Email: devburns@indiana.edu


Course Webpage: http://www.indiana.edu/~clcl/P553/


Despite the official title, this course is intended to be an introduction to basic statistics. We will cover fundamental concepts of statistical description and inference with application to the behavioral sciences. Although it is impossible to explore statistical inference separate from research methodology, we will not deeply address issues in experimental design, nor the analysis of complex designs. The lab component of the course will focus on the application of statistical software to real datasets from behavioral experiments, and the lecture component will focus on understanding the concepts, and being able to do anything the software could do with a pencil and calculator. Hence, the goal of this class is twofold: 1) To gain skills and hands-on experience analyzing behavioral data, and 2) To gain a strong understanding of statistical inference, chance, and how to analyze a particular dataset.


  • A firm grasp of chance models and the logic of statistical inference
  • Ability to conduct basic statistical tests the old fashion way (by hand)
  • Hands-on experience with data analysis software
  • Ability to design and conduct simple behavioral experiments
  • Development of an annoying knack to critically question everything

This course is intended to bring all the incoming graduate students in Psychology "up to pace," so it is not intended to "weed out" students with relatively weak previous training in statistics. On the other hand, this course is definitely not remedial. It moves quickly and emphasizes conceptual unification, not rote mechanics. You should have previously taken an undergraduate course in statistics. A purpose of P553 is to enrich and solidify your understanding of the conceptual underpinnings of methods to which you were previously exposed. My hope is that regardless of your previous level of understanding, you come away from this course with a better understanding, and the ability to analyze real experiments.

Students with relatively strong previous training in statistics should also find this course useful to refresh their knowledge and to gain a deeper understanding of the basic concepts. If you are a Psychology major and have already taken a comparable graduate-level course, and feel that you are already thoroughly familiar with the material in P553, please see the instructor to discuss a possible exemption from the P553 requirement. Students exempted from P553 are encouraged to take more advanced statistics courses instead. It is very uncommon to be exempted from P553 without any prior graduate-level statistics training.

While most of the examples discussed in class will come from psychology, students from other fields are welcome.


Howell, D. C. (2009). Statistical Methods for Psychology (7th Edition). Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN: 0495597848

Copies are available at the IU bookstore. Please contact me immediately if you have any trouble obtaining copies of the textbook.

SPSS Software: The laboratory sessions will use the SPSS Software package. I am not using SPSS because I think it is the best but, rather (like parametric statistics), it is what you are most likely to encounter when you go on to do research. Most data analysis packages work very similarly, and transfer between them is usually quite easy. The laboratory sessions will emphasize using SPSS for data analysis, and an understanding of SPSS is essential for the lab assignments. You will find SPSS in any computer lab on campus. In addition, UITS has an agreement with SPSS to offer the full version to students for their personal computers for a fee of $50 (1-year license).  To find out more, go to the IU Statmath center (http://www.indiana.edu/~statmath/)

Calculator: For the tests, you will need a calculator. Any calculator with a square root function should be sufficient.

As this is a graduate course, grades are typically in the A to B range, and only rarely is a C or less assigned. It is Psychology Department policy to give incompletes ("I" grades) only with a valid medical excuse. There will be three (noncumulative) tests spaced roughly after each third of lectures. These tests will count for 60% of your final course grade, with the average lab assignment constituting the final 40%. Specifically:

Test #1 (September 29).....................................20% 
Test #2 (November 3)........................................20%
Test #3 (December 8)....................................... 20%
Mean of 11 Lab Assignments...............................40%

Laboratory Sessions
Each week there will be a laboratory assignment posted on the website. You are to attend one of the two sessions held in the Psychology 287 computer laboratory that week. The sessions are:

  • Thursday, 7-9pm
  • Friday, 10:10am-12:05pm

Each lab will focus on a topic that is linked to what we are discussing in the lecture at that time, and you will get hands-on experience analyzing data with a particular technique the same week that we discuss it in lecture. The assignments will often involve hand calculations and computer analyses, as well as some comprehension questions. There will be 11 lab assignments, and together they will count for 40% of your final grade in the course (the first lab is an orientation, and the assignment does not count). The lab assignments are due at the beginning of the lab session the following week (or you may hand it into the lab instructor before you leave if you complete the assignment in the lab session). Completed labs will be handed back to you the following week. We aim to emphasize comprehension, not speed with these assignments; but after the Friday lab the following week the assignment is late.

Each day your homework assignment is late, up to three days, reduces the total possible by 10%, and after three days no points are possible without an acceptably documented excuse. There are two reasons for this policy: First, the course moves quickly and the material is largely cumulative, so the late penalty acts as an extra incentive to keep up. Second, the assistants, who will be grading the homework, must not be given a flood of late homework papers just before each exam.You are encouraged to work together on the laboratory assignments to the extent that it enhances your learning of the material, but please write your own answers in your own words.

Plagiarism and Cheating: According to the university’s bylaws: “It is the responsibility of the student not only to abstain from cheating but, in addition, to avoid the appearance of cheating and to guard against making it possible for others to cheat.” Cheating will be dealt with harshly. However, given we are all doing the same lab assignments (and you may work on the analyses in groups), I certainly expect a reasonable amount of similarity between submitted lab assignments.

Missing Test/Assignments: If you must miss a test due to a religious observance or university sponsored event, you must give me notice of this within the first two weeks of the semester so I can make alternate arrangements.

Late Assignments: Late lab assignments will be accepted, but you lose 10% for each day late (up to a maximum of 3 days). Lab assignments may be submitted during the current lab, or by the beginning of the next lab section. Hence, the “Late Clock” starts ticking one week after the lab session for which the assignment was scheduled.