Data Science and Statistics

Data, Distributions, and Decisions: The Science of Statistics  –  Adriene Beltz
(Session 2)
Will that medication work? Did your SAT scores significantly improve since you last took the test? Does “fake news” affect the way people vote? Statistics are needed to answer these questions! They are the backbone of empirical investigations in psychological, social, neuro, political, and medical science. They help determine if the patterns we see in data reflect true group differences and real-world relationships, or not. This course serves as a general introduction to the field of statistics, as utilized by empirical scientists. In it, we will discuss the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data with an eye toward answering pressing questions. Specifically, we will cover: (1) probability and distributions, (2) basic group comparisons, (3) correlation and regression, and (4) the general linear model (e.g., how different statistical tests are all related and can provide the same result). There will be some lecture with slides, online videos and visualizations, and group work, but the majority of the course will focus on out-of-class data collection and hands-on coding and analysis in R.

Data Science of Happiness  –  Dina Gohar
(Session 1)
This course is an introduction to positive psychology-the study of positive experiences, positive traits, positive relationships, and the institutions and practices that facilitate their development–a rapidly expanding area of study that is of great interest and benefit to students. The course will use an active and experiential approach that encourages reflective learning in combination with lively lectures, seminar style discussions, interactive technology and collaborative activities to creatively and critically examine the major topics of concern in positive psychology, such as pleasure, engagement, and meaning in life, as well as a critical source of these experiences: positive interpersonal relationships, and areas of controversy (e.g., what is happiness and how do you measure it?). To get first-hand experience, students will complete several empirically supported wellness-enhancing exercises and reflect on their experiences in class, such as planning an ideal day and having it, doing a secret good deed, and writing a letter of gratitude to someone who hasn’t been properly thanked. As a capstone project, students may also design their own hands-on activities to teach younger students about positive psychology and possibly demonstrate them to students at a nearby community center or summer camp.