The Looking Glass

The Looking Glass

The Department of Psychology


Dr. Burton L. Alperson

When I teach Psychology 302 and 304A, I do everything I can to discourage my students from using computers. I feel that students can learn little about the difference between a population and sample standard deviation when they are handed a tool that allows them to issue the command, "Gimme a standard deviation." At this level, it is much more important to teach statistical concepts than to provide tools for accurate and efficient computation. (I am aware that there are those who do not share my views on this issue. However, they are wrongthinkers and I will not discuss arguments to the contrary here.)

On the other hand, the real world of data analysis is very different from the introductory world of Psychology 302 and 304A. Virtually all contemporary data analysis is carried out with the aid of a computer. In addition, in most graduate programs, it is expected that incoming students will be computer literate. In Psychology, students are not only expected to be proficient in word processing, they are also expected to be able to use at least one of the major computer packages available for statistical data analysis.

Psychology 454 is designed to provide this expected statistical computer literacy. Course content includes all the descriptive and inferential statistics normally taught in Psychology 302 plus extended coverage of ANOVA and ANCOVA. It also covers several techniques that are not usually taught at CSU/LA. These techniques are generally relatively new and they are only practical when computers are used for calculation.


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