MATH 278 Discrete Probability and Statistics for Elementary Teachers

MATH 278 Discrete Probability and Statistics for Elementary Education Majors

Section 001, Fall 2017

Instructor: Kevin McLeod
Office: EMS E481
Office hours: MW 2:00-3:15 PM;
                     TR 10:00-11:00 AM
                     (or by appointment)
Phone: 229-5269
Home page:
Class schedule: MW 3:30-4:45 PM, NWQ 1975

Primary Text: Richard H. Stockbridge, Discrete Probability
and Statistical Inference (2nd edition, revised)
(Available on our class D2L website, or through the UWM E-Bookstore.
Please be sure you obtain both the textbook and the class activities manual.)

Course description

The goal of this course, as stated in Chapter I of the textbook, is “to explore some of the foundational concepts of probability and how they are used to make inferences from data.” Three major ideas will recur throughout the course:

  • Though individual outcomes cannot be predicted with certainty, patterns
    emerge over many repetitions.
  • Theoretical models exist which accurately describe these patterns.
  • Inferences are reasonable decisions based on the likelihoods of the
    observed data occurring.

Current K-12 mathematics education standards expect students to learn much more probability and statistics—and at earlier grade levels—than has been usual in the past, and so it is important that K-12 teachers have a good understanding of this material. Much of the material that we will cover in this course is aligned to middle grades standards in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM); some of it will go beyond what you yourselves might be expected to teach, in order to provide a glimpse of what your students should be studying in high school.

We will run the class on a “flipped classroom” model, in which you are expected to read the relevant sections of the textbook ahead of class, and we will discuss them and work through problems and activities during class time.You will be expected to take an active role in the in-class activities and discussions. For this reason, attendance is particularly important: you will not be able to make up a missed class just by reading the textbook.

There is a class website at Any relevant information about the class, such as exam dates or other announcements, will be posted at the site, so you should get into the habit of checking it on a regular basis. Homework will also be posted there, so if you do have to miss a class you can still be prepared for the next one. If I find useful and relevant links during the semester, they will also be posted; if you find some yourself, please let me know. You are responsible for any information posted on the website, so please check it frequently.


Your grade for the course will be based on
the following factors:

  • Class participation 10%.
  • Reading and Homework You will be assigned one or more sections of the textbook to read before each class period, and homework problems after each class. (The homework may be given out in class, but will always be posted on the class website.) I will often ask you to send me an e-mail question on the reading, and I often use those questions to help plan the class discussion. The homework problems will usually consist of exercises from the primary text, some of which will be collected and graded. 10%.
  • Midterms There will be two midterm exams, given close to the 6th and 12th weeks of the semester. (The exact dates will depend on the pace of the class, and will be announced at least one week in advance.) Each midterm exam will have both an individual and a group component, and each one will be comprehensive, in the sense that it may contain material covered any time from the start of the semester to the exam date, although new material will be more heavily weighted. 20% each.
  • Individual Final Exam The final exam will also have individual and group components. Both components will be comprehensive, with all course material receiving equal weight. The individual component will be given on the last regular class day: Wednesday, December 13. 20%.
  • Group Final Exam The group portion of the final exam will be given during the scheduled final exam period for the class: 12:30-2:30 PM on Tuesday, December 19. 25%.

There will be no make-up for either portion of the final exam. You may have a make-up for the midterm if I am convinced that you had a valid excuse for missing the original exam. The make-up must be taken within one week of the original midterm, and will be an oral exam.

Average Time Investment

The amount of time that an average student should expect to spend on this
class is as follows:

  • Classroom time (face to face instruction): 42 hours
  • Time taking exams (midterm, final exam): 6 hours
  • Time for preparation and study for exams: 18 hours
  • Time completing reading and other homework assignments: 84 hours

Total number of hours: 150.

Students with disabilities

If you feel you are a student with a disability, please feel free to contact me early in the semester for any help or accommodation you may need.

University policies

You should keep yourself informed of important dates in the University calendar.

The Secretary of the University has a page dedicated to university policies for religious observances, grade appeal procedures, military service and other matters. You should also familiarize yourself with the information on the Dean of Students Office webpage concerning proper student conduct at the university, both academic misconduct and non-academic misconduct. You will be held responsible for the information and policies contained at these links.

Finally, please note that I reserve the right to make changes to this syllabus in the event of a disruption to normal classroom activities, or other needs that may arise during the semester.

Kevin McLeod