Fall 2017, Seminar is held on Tuesdays, 3:30 - 6:15pm in BSC B07

Faculty Instructor:

Christopher A. Schmitt, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Biology
Office: 232 Bay State Road, Room 104B
Office Hours: Wednesday 2:00 - 4:00pm; Thursday by appointment.
Web: http://www.evopropinquitous.net
Email: caschmit[at]bu[dot]edu
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/fuzzyatelin

Course Outline




Coding Problems

Course Description

Statistical methods are the backbone of scientific research, but are often given short shrift when designing research in biological anthropology. The purpose of this seminar is two-fold: 1) to familiarize students with the use of relevant statistical programming packages (primarily R), and 2) to discuss select advances in statistical techniques from related disciplines that may help students while designing and implementing their own research projects.

Potential foci of discussion may include statistical methods for accounting for small sample sizes or non-normal data, using power analyses and preliminary statistics to justify data collection design, and the use of mixed models and information theoretic approaches to analyze a number of different data types. Although there will be a discussion element to the seminar, students should see this course as a guided workshop or practicum in which we learn by working with both our own and previously published datasets.


CAS AN 102, and consent of instructor. At least one semester of introductory statistics is recommended, but not required. Prior experience programming is helpful, but also not required.

Course Format

This is a 4 credit seminar course. Seminar will be held once a week for a total of 3 hours. Please bring laptops or tablets to class loaded with appropriate software for course exercises (these can be found in Resources, above). Within CAS, these credits count as NS divisional credits towards the BA.


Performance in the class will be assessed as follows:
    1. 50 points: Regular attendance and class participation.
    2. 50 points (10 x 5): Class coding quizzes.
    3. 100 points (10 x 10 Programming homework sets)
    4. 100 points: One individual data analysis replication assignment based on a published paper with a publicly available dataset, chosen in consultation with the instructor.
    5. 100 points: One group presentation and written R vignette demonstrating the use of a particular statistical method chosen in consultation with the instructor.

Required Texts

Tillman available in print or electronic format from No Starch Press and O’Reilly Media; Kabacoff availble in print or electronic format from Manning Publications; both texts are available at Amazon.com.

Optional Texts

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, you should: