The textbook for Economics 250 is The Practice of Statistics for Business and Economics, Third Edition, by Moore, McCabe, Alwan, Craig, and Duckworth. The Queen's Campus Bookstore sells a "Customized for Queen's University" edition which includes just the chapters covered in Economics 250. This is the same textbook used since Fall 2012, so you may contemplate exploring the used textbook market.
Note that there is a 2016 edition of this textbook as well, which has made some small changes to the order of material covered. The Queens customized edition of the textbook, however, has not yet been updated to the new edition. If you do get a 2016 edition, do not worry: the Outline includes the relevant topics and chapters for both 2012 and 2016 editions.
You will be provided with this helpful formula sheet in the midterms and the final examination papers. It is strongly suggested that you familiarize yourself with this formula sheet before seeing it in the midterms and final exam.
The midterms and finals will also include copies of the statistical tables A and D from the textbook. You can also download a copy of these tables to print out separately.
You will definitely need a calculator for this course. The approved calculators for Economics are the Casio 991 (also known Casio fx991MS+) or calculators with a Blue or Gold approval sticker. The Casio 991 calculator has a "Statistics mode" that is very useful for saving time when calculating some of the values we need to calculate in this course. The manual that came with the calculator has information on using this Statistics mode starting on page 26, also available online.
Our textbook comes with a CD containing statistical "applets". Since the book was published, however, those applets have stopped working (because of changes in newer versions of Java, which the applets require).
The publisher has made available improved, online versions that don't require Java at all (these are also linked from the Outline page).
Either Microsoft Excel or gretl are recommended software applications for graphing, plotting and analysing data. If you don't intend to take any statistics courses after ECON 250, I suggest you stick with Microsoft Excel; if you plan to take ECON 351 and beyond, becoming familiar with a regression package such as gretl can be greatly beneficial.
Microsoft Excel, with the data analysis add-ons discussed below, is capable of everything we need in Economics 250. If not already installed on your computer, you do not need to buy a copy: it is available for free use on the computers in Queen's public computing sites.
Windows Excel users:
Remember to activate the Analysis ToolPak (The really quick version of the instructions to do this in Excel 2010: Click File -> Options -> Add-Ins -> (at the bottom) Manage: [Excel Add-ins] click [Go...] -> Make sure "Analysis ToolPak" is checked -> OK). Once the Analysis ToolPak is enabled you will get the "Data Analysis" option under the "Data" menu.
Mac Excel users:
OS X users of Excel will need to download and install a similar package called StatPlus:mac LE. The quick installation instructions:
- Click the above link, then click "Download", then "Download" again on the next page).
- Find the saved zip file or folder named "statplusmacle", and double click the "SPM_5802_LE.dmg" file.
- Drag the "StatPlus" icon onto the "Applications" folder to install it.
- Start it from your "Applications" menu. If you get a message such as "StatPlus can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer" you'll need to open Finder, go to "Applications", then right-click (or hold Control and regular-click) on StatPlus, then select Open, then click the "Open" button. You should only need to do this once, afterwards you can start it normally from the Applications folder.
To use it, start up both Excel and StatPlus and load (or create) some data in Excel. To use the various statistical functions, switch to the running StatPlus app, and use the appropriate menu item at the top of the screen (for example, to produce a histogram: Statistics -> Basic Statistics and Tables -> Histogram...), which will let you choose the appropriate options and/or Excel data.
gretl is a free statistical software package available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems. It is a highly capable but easy-to-use package that you will likely find useful if you choose to go on in Econometrics. We'll use it more later in the course (especially when we cover regressions in the last 2 weeks).
To install gretl on Windows, follow the "Gretl for Windows" link on the left side of the gretl homepage, then download and run the "latest release" "self-installer". 64-bit should work on most computers, but if it doesn't, try the 32-bit installer instead.
To install gretl on a Mac, follow the "Gretl for Mac OS X" link on the left side of the gretl homepage, then click the "Intel Mac, quartz" link. Download the latest release, and follow the directions on the page.
The textbook CD comes with many data sets in various formats that will be used from time to time in class. If you didn't get a CD with your textbook (perhaps because you bought it used), or you don't have easy access to a computer with a CD drive, you can download it below.
The following data sets are currently available:
Meetings after Class, Office Hours, and Review Sessions
Each year we receive e-mails from students after the final exam asking what they can do to obtain a higher grade. For example, some students pass the course but do not receive the required "C" grade to be eligible to take Economics 351. The answer to these enquiries is that, unfortunately, there is nothing we can do. We cannot help you either during or after the final exam, or change the weighting scheme, or assign extra work for credit.
So, if you have difficulties in the course (for example on one or both of the midterm tests) please consider seeing the instructor after class or in office hours to ask questions, ask the teaching assistants to work through practice problems with you, and attend any review sessions before the final exam. We are here to assist you before the final exam, but we cannot do so afterwards.
We do not provide a set of lecture notes for this course.
In the past we've sometimes prepared summaries or lecture notes in Economics 250, but, to our surprise, they are often correlated with reduced student performance. They seem to lead to a false sense of security, discouraging students from the regular practice that is key to learning statistics
The best way to learn statistics (and thus succeed in Economics 250) is to do statistics: don't just read the textbook and come to class (of course, do both of those too!), but spend a significant portion of your study time working through problems. The textbook has more than 100 exercises for each chapter, half of which (the odd-numbered ones) have answers at the back of the book. The Test Archive of past tests is another good source of questions.
Don't leave your assignments or studying to the last minute! Like most mathematical courses, statistics is not a subject that is well suited to cramming!