Frequently Asked Questions

I really need this class, but your class is full. Can you add me?


Because of the limited seats / computers in the classroom, I am unable to have more than 35 students in each section. The best advice I can give you is to keep checking online, in case any space becomes available when someone else drops the class or is dropped by the system. When the online status of class shows "closed", this means all 28 regular seats and 6 waitlist seats are already taken. Considering the fact that a small number of students do not show up the first day (and will be dropped subsequently), there are typically 1 to 3 seats for the 6-10 students who are trying to add. On the first day, I will hold a lottery to decide who will be given the add codes. You should be able to estimate the probability of your winning the lottery and decide whether you want to participate in the lottery. If you are unable to attend the first day, you will not be eligible to participate in the lottery. I am unable to add anyone to the class after the first week, since doing so will be too disruptive for the class.  

I am on the wait list. Do I need to do anything to get in?


No. Students on the waitlist will be automatically enrolled at the beginning of the second week.

I always struggled with Math. Should I sign up for your class?


Most likely, the answer is no. A traditional class that meets twice a week in a classroom is generally a better environment for students who have difficulty in their previous mathematics classes, since there are many more opportunities to interact with the instructor. If you choose to take the class online in order to avoid going to math classes, you will most likely not have very little meaningful interactions with anyone. Without meaningful interactions, the chance of successfully completing the course is slim.

Is this an online class? Can you give me an idea about what it is like to take this class?


Technically, this class is considered a "hybrid" class, since it combines a weekly meeting in the classroom with 8-12 hours of online learning activities. Instead of attending lectures in the classroom, you will study the materials posted onlline, participate in online discussions, and complete a portion of the weekly assignments before each classroom session. When you come to class, you will then be directed to work in small groups on a set of problems on the same topic and will receive feedback from the instructor in person. You are required to attend all class meetings. Missing the first orientation session will result in your being withdrawn from the course to allow other students to enroll.

Not sure if this is the right format for you? Take this self-assessment.


Since I work 30 hours a week / I am taking more than 15 units this semester / I will be traveling a lot / my work schedule changes regularly, I am looking for an easier Math class that takes less time and fits my schedule. Is it a good idea for me to sign up for your class?


No. The hybrid class is not easier than traditional face-to-face classes, nor does it save you time. The most common mistake students make when they enroll in fully or partially online classes is that they expect it to be "easier" and less time-consuming, because they spend less time in the classroom. Quite the opposite is true. Because the time in the classroom is reduced in a hybrid class, in order to learn the same material, you should be prepared to spend more time outside the classroom. In a typical week, there will be multiple online assignments due every week, in addition to the requirement that you contribute to the online discussion several times a week and prepare for the required classroom session. So if you cannot devote 8-12 hours* to this class, and are only planning to study statistics once a week, this is definitely not the class for you. Some students do not realize this class is not what they have expected until the second or third week of the class. By then, all the other Math 15 sections are full and they are unable to switch to a different section. If one of the following applies to you, then the hybrid class is most likely not a good match for you:



Still not sure if the hybrid class is for you? Take this self-assessment.


Note: the average of 8-12 hours per week is an interval estimate based on past surveys of Math 15 students and a 95% confidence level. Your actual time will vary.


Why do we have required weekly discussions for this class? I don't feel like I have anything to discuss with anyone about Math. Can I skip that?


No. Regular discussion posting is an essential part of this course. Learning to ask relevant questions and discuss new ideas using a new language is important not just for statistics, but for your future careers as well. During the online discussion, you are not only practicing how to articulate statistical concepts, but also working on the valuable skill of communicating with people and discussing ideas electronically in a clear, professional manner.

If you think of the online discussion as a different way to learn, then you will probably start to see how it fits into the rest of the course. Students who do not participate in online discussions will be withdrawn from the course, according to the syllabus.


Do we take our tests online? Can I take my test somewhere else?


No. All tests will be proctored and given only during the classroom meetings on the pre-determined dates indicated on the syllabus. The instructor is unable to accommodate requests from individual students to reschedule the tests or offer any makeup tests. To accommodate students who miss a test due to an emergency, the final exam (required) will be used to replace up to one missed test.


What books/materials will I need for this class?


Introductory Statistics, 2nd ed. by Illowsky and Dean. This is an open source eBook that can be freely viewed online and downloaded in a variety of formats. A low-cost hard copy is also available through the SRJC Bookstore at Santa Rosa campus. If you plan to print out a large number of pages from the book, I recommend that you obtain a hard copy. Weekly homework will be assigned from the book, which includes a clear numbering of the problems. All online quizzes will be hosted in SRJC's Canvas course and do not require you to purchase any additional access code.

I am not very good at computers. Would this class work for me?


It depends. At a minimum, you need to feel comfortable using the various online tools and be able to troubleshoot some common problems (such as issues related to Java updates and Flash player) with web browsers. During the semester, you will also be downloading numerous course files from Canvas that are created in Microsoft Office (Word and Excel). The minimum technology requirements include access to internet, a web browser that is compatible with Java, and software that is capable of opening MS Office files (for alternatives to Microsoft Office, you may consider Google Drive and OpenOffice). The first orientation assignment is designed to familiarize you with the technology needed for you to participate in the online portion of the class. Having access to someone who can help you troubleshoot common computer problems can be helpful, but you should prepare to spend more time on this class than a traditional class.

I am very familiar with using computers and internet. Does this mean that this class will be easy for me?


Although our class incorporates some learning technologies, our focus is still on the concepts and applications of statistics. If Math has always been difficult for you, then you may still find this course to be challenging. However, just like any other subject, if you put in the work (reading the book, doing your homework, participating in discussions, and working with others), you are much more likely to succeed in this class.


I can do Algebra, but hate word problems. / I don't like to read the book. / English is not my first language / I can't seem to remember which formula to use in the test. What can I do to better understand Statistics?


Compared with Algebra, Statistics involves many more problems that require more reading and critical thinking. The language of statistics uses words from English, but the meaning of these words is often slightly different from everyday usage. An example will be the use of "or" in forming the union of two events, and the use of "given" in conditional probability. Another example is the use of the word "confidence" in "Confidence Interval". There are also special terms (such as "significance level" and "test statistic") that are only used in the discussion of statistics. Because many students did not pay attention to the language of Mathematics and only focused on mechanical computations when they studied Algebra, they have found the transition from Algebra to Statistics to be more difficult than expected. Students who struggled in statistics often commented that although the formulas were provided with the test, they did not seem to remember how to use them to solve the actual problems.

So if learning the language of statistics sounds like a challenge for you, I would recommend you read the text in advance, take notes on terms that you have trouble understanding, and review them after we discuss them every week. Many of the studying strategies for foreign languages often work for statistics as well. For example, some students have used flash cards to help them master the vocabulary they encountered each week, and it seemed to work for them. It's hard to imagine someone can learn Spanish without ever speaking Spanish to someone else. So in the same way, the language of statistics also requires you to actively practice using it to express ideas to someone else. The online discussion is a great place for such practice (see the question above about weekly online discussions).

One last comment on the comparison of algebra v.s. statistics: after studying algebra for a number of years, when students first enter a statistics course, they will often come with questions like "which formulas should I memorize?", or "what are the steps for solving this type of problem?" However, to excel in Statistics (and higher level mathematics in general), you may need to start asking yourself some entirely different questions such as "what do the symbols in this formula mean?", "what is the context in which this formula should be applied?", "did these variables appear in another topic?" In other words, you need to start focusing on understanding the concepts, instead of the symbolic manipulations that were often the primarily focus in algebra.

I haven't studied Math for years and would like to prepare for your class before the semester begins. Is there anything I can do to make sure I am ready?


It's great that you are motivated to succeed in this class. In my experience, motivated students are much more likely to succeed in this class. As I mentioned above, you should be prepared to see a slightly different subject from algebra, and apply some slightly different studying strategies. The textbook, available online, might be a good place to start getting a feel for the subject. Sometimes in order to deepen one's understanding, it is also helpful to see the same topic presented by another author. If you can find other books that cover similar material as our textbook, you can also use them as resources too (I will also supplement the textbook with my own notes after we start the course). The library has a number of statistics textbooks on course reserve that you can check out, and it's fairly easy to find used texts at low prices. If you are not sure whether a reference text is appropriate for our level, please feel free to check with me.

I don't have regular access to the internet. Would this class work for me?


No. Having regular internet access is a requirement for online learning. If you do not have high-speed internet access at home, you may use the computers in the SRJC library.

Do I need to get a graphing calculator for this class?


You will have the option of either using a TI-83/84 graphing calculator, or a free software (GeoGebra) for this course. The GeoGebra software will be installed in classroom computers and can also be downloaded to your own computers.

How can I contact you outside class?


I hold regular office hours about 5 hours a week in Santa Rosa campus. My office hours and location are posted on my webpage. If you are unable to visit my office hours, the best way to reach me is via email. I normally check my email twice a day during business hours, and only sporadically during weekends. Please include your course number in the subject of your email and try to use complete sentences to avoid being stopped by the spam filter used in the college email system. I can also be reached by phone (521-6912) during office hours. You may leave a voicemail if I am not in the office.

How will I hear from you outside the class?


I typically send reminders and other updates about the class through Canvas announcements. If you would like to receive the announcements in your email or text messages, you can change your profile in Canvas so that Canvas forwards my messages to your email address. Canvas can also send you reminders about due dates of assignments, and I highly recommend that you sign up to receive them so that you donít miss any due dates. You can change how your receive Canvas notifications by going to Account, Settings, and Ways to Contact. Text messages are available if you add a contact method under Other Contacts. You can also unsubscribe at any time.

I have a job that requires me to travel quite a bit. Because of my work, I will be missing one or two classes. Is there anything I can do to make up the missed classes?


We only meet once a week, so missing a class is equivalent to missing a week of work in a traditional class. However, since the primary activity in class meetings is collaboration on your team homework, if you are able collaborate with your team members online and turn in your team homework electronically, that may be acceptable. Other than Canvas discussion forums (there is one created exclusively for each group), you can also use cloud-based collaboration tools, such as Microsoft's Office online / Skydrive, and Google Drive (which is already embedded in Canvas).

In order to receive credit for team homework while you are away, you must present evidence that you have contributed to the homework and authorize your teammates to sign the cover sheet for you. Otherwise, you will receive zero for the team homework.

If you miss three of more class meetings, you will be subsequently dropped from the course, per the attendance policy set by the college.

How do I use GeoGebra for (Ö)? Where are the instructions?


I have made a series of "screen casts" that demonstrate how to use the software for various tasks required in this class. You should look under the "Screen Casts" section in Canvas. If the video you need is not posted there, then please let me know and I can create a new one for you.

Can I access the course materials via my smartphone / tablet?


Yes. Both the eBook and our Canvas course can be accessed from smart phones or tablets. GeoGebra (the free software) also releases free apps for different mobile devices, and you can find where to download them from