Illinois State University Mathematics Department

MAT 312: Probability and Statistics for Middle School Teachers

Summer 2004
1:35-4:15 MTWR STV 311
Dr. Roger Day (

Course Sy1labus

Course Perspective
Course Objectives
Course Requirements
Grades and Grading
Office Hours
Course Schedule

Course Perspective

As we move through the first decade of the 21st Century, no topics in school mathematics have received greater attention than statistics, probability, and data analysis. Standards documents of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) [Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (1989) and the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (2000)] emphasize and describe these topics at various grade levels. The American Statistical Association (ASA) has for several years worked with the NCTM to produce materials that reflect modern uses of statistics, probability, and data analysis. One result of their efforts, the Quantitative Literacy series, emphasizes early and ongoing student experiences collecting, representing, and evaluating data. The Quantitative Literacy series also supports students' active experimentation with notions of chance.

This attention to statistics, probability, and data analysis is based on the ever-increasing presence and importance of information in our society. On the job and in the home we are inundated with facts and figures, graphs and charts, data and information. Whether we are making decisions within the work place, the community, or the home, our decisions often reflect how information has influenced us. We make purchases and cast votes based on the knowledge at hand, knowledge often expressed in the form of numbers, charts, tables, and graphs.

To make the best decisions we need to understand and evaluate the information presented to us. How likely is it that some event will occur? Does a particular chart or graph accurately represent the data, or is it distorted? If it is distorted, to whose advantage, and why? How might facts and figures be manipulated to make a particular point? What questions might we ask to better understand the representations?

So justifies the attention the mathematics community has given to these important topics. Whether the attention is translated into action, however, depends on us. How can we help students develop and reinforce concepts of statistics, probability, and data analysis? Most likely, we first need to expand our own understanding of these topics so that we can better help our students. That is a fundamental objective of the course.

Course Objectives

To develop greater skill and understanding of:

  • statistics, as you
    • collect, organize, display, and analyze data,
    • generate and use statistical information to support or challenge a position.
  • probability, as you
    • distinguish between theoretical and empirical probability,
    • develop strategies to calculate the number of possible outcomes for various events,
    • determine probabilities by acting out, simulating, and representing various events,
    • explore properties of probability distributions.
  • the relationships between probability and statistics, as you
    • make inferences about populations.
  • teaching and learning probability and statistics, as you
    • explore various approaches to teaching and learning probability and statistics,
    • become more aware of resources available for teaching and learning probability and statistics.

Course Requirements and Grades

Quizzes (10%)

Quizzes may be given throughout the course. They may be announced or unannounced. Quizzes typically will be completed during a portion of a class period and will focus on recent material studied in the course.

Tests (3 @ 20% each)

Three exams will be given during the course. The tests are tentatively scheduled for Thursdays, June 17, June 24, and July 1.

Final Examination (30%)

A comprehensive course exam will be completed Thursday, July 8.

There may be additional non-graded homework exercises. These exercises deal with the concepts and skills discussed in class and in the readings.

Semester grades are based on the required course components listed above. I will use a distribution no more severe than A: 92 to 100%, B: 84 to 91%, C: 76 to 83%, D: 68 to 75%, F: less than 67%.


There is no required textbook for the course. There may be handouts provided in class as well as links to electronic course notes.

Graphics Calculators

A graphics calculator is required for the course. A Texas Instruments TI-83 or TI-83+ is recommended by the department for those in the middle school program. A TI-83 will be used for in-class demonstrations.

Office Hours and Contact Information

329C Stevenson Hall: before and after class

Available Resources

There are excellent mathematics resources in STV 302. This room is open at selected times during the week. There are multiple copies of many books, booklets, pamphlets, and journals. You may use the materials there or check them out on a limited basis.

We may also use the computer lab, STV 314. On some class days, we may meet in the computer lab rather than in our classroom.

Attendance, Make-up Work, and Extra Credit

Your active involvement--individually, in small groups, and with the entire class--is an important way for you to help meet the course objectives. For you to be involved, you must be present. If you are now aware of attendance conflicts or should you become aware of such conflicts, please let me know of them as soon as possible.

The deadlines, due dates, and test dates described in the written course requirements and in class are just that. Plan ahead to complete the required tasks on time; be prepared for quizzes, tests, and the semester exam. Make-up work is negotiated on an individual basis only under emergency situations.

The course requirements are designed to meet the objectives of the course. Unless announced otherwise, there is no extra credit as a substitute for successful completion of the required components of the course.

I invite and appreciate your comments and suggestions for the course as it unfolds. Please share with me in person or in writing your reactions and perceptions. Your contributions will serve to enhance the course for you, your classmates, and future students.

Important Dates

Please be aware of the university-established deadlines for registering for courses and for withdrawing from courses and from the university. Consult the undergraduate catalog or ask me for help.

Tentative Schedule for Course Topics

14 June to 17 June: One-Variable Data Analysis

17 June: Test #1

21 June to 24 June: Two-Variable Data Analysis

24 June: Test #2

28 June to 1 July: Counting Techniques

1 July: Test #3

5 July to 8 July: Probability

8 July: Comprehensive Exam

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