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Special Topics in Biological Anthropology (Winter 2021) Topic: Statistics for Biological Anthropology

Course Description: From pandemics to public policy, harm reduction to human geography, the ability to comprehend and work with data is rapidly becoming a key skill for professional and personal life in the twenty-first century. For social scientists in particular, being able to interpret, use, and critique quantitative information will be a valuable addition to your professional tool kit. 3BA3 Special Topics will be a friendly and practical introduction to statistics for anthropology students with a minimal mathematics background. This course is designed to prepare students to analyze and interpret quantitative data with R, a statistical environment that is growing in popularity in many research fields, including biological anthropology. We will prioritize learning to apply and interpret the most common descriptive and inferential statistics used by anthropologists, with additional emphasis on best practices for collecting and working with data. Skills learned in this course can be applied to analyzing either quantitative or qualitative data. What the course involves: This is a practical course. Over the term we will cover the conceptual theory and practical application of quantitative methods with a focus on: formulating research questions that can be answered with quantitative data; identifying the appropriate methods to address those questions; and managing our data to facilitate good quality analysis. Do I have to be good at math? This course does not require advanced knowledge of mathematics. We will cover the arithmetic basis of commonly used statistics, with a focus on understanding which methods to use for what purpose. We will allow R to do the “real” mathematics. What is R? R is a coding language and open-source processing environment designed specifically for statistics. It features a wide range of functions, including mapping and data visualization. We will perform all work with RStudio, a free, user-friendly interface for the R statistical analysis environment.


Unit(s): 3.0 Level(s): III Term(s): Winter Offered?: Yes Language?: No

Elizabeth (Bess) Doyle

Assistant Professor and CLA

Prerequisite(s): Registration in any program in Anthropology