Chapter 1 Course Information and Reference

This online e-book is the main resource to guide you through the course HE-902 in the PhD in HPEd program at MGHIHP in the Spring 2020 semester.

Each chapter contains reading (or links to reading) that you should do as well as an assignment that you should complete and submit by the deadline in the course calendar.

My name is Anshul Kumar and I am the author/preparer of this e-book. You can reach me at with any questions, comments, and/or suggestions for modifications to this e-book.

All of the materials here are available online for anybody to use. Those who are not part of the course HE-902 are welcome to use this e-book however it might be useful. Please e-mail me any feedback you have.

I use a lot of footnotes like the one after this sentence.1 You can read the footnote by clicking on the small-but-tall number in between this sentence and the previous one. Footnotes contain comments from me or extra information that might be helpful. But footnotes in this e-book are never necessary to read. It is fine for you to skip the footnotes and not read them.

1.1 Course Calendar

The calendar below shows when assignments are due and when online video calls (using Zoom) must be scheduled. Keep in mind that this calendar might change during the semester.

Each week starts on a Monday and ends on a Sunday. For example, the Sunday on the week of January 13 refers to January 19 (the first assignment is due on January 19). You can submit an assignment at any time on the day when it is due.

Each week, read and follow all instructions in the corresponding chapter. Then complete the assignment at the end of the chapter.

Week of Chapter Assignment Due Additional Required
Jan 13 2 Sunday
Jan 20 TBD Sunday Zoom call, RStudio orientation
Jan 27 TBD Sunday
Feb 3 TBD Sunday
Feb 10 TBD Sunday Oral exam #1 (Zoom)
Feb 17 TBD Sunday
Feb 24 TBD Sunday
Mar 2 TBD Sunday Zoom call, check-in
Mar 9 (spring break)
Mar 16 TBD Sunday Oral exam #2 (Zoom)
Mar 23 TBD Sunday
Mar 30 TBD Sunday
Apr 6 TBD Sunday
Apr 13 TBD Friday Oral exam #3 (Zoom)
Apr 20 TBD

TBD = to be determined

1.3 Assignments, Grading, and Curriculum

1.3.1 Grade Calculation

Type of Work % of Grade
Weekly assignments 25
Participation 5
Oral exams 45
Final project 25

Your grade will be calculated as shown in the table above. This supersedes whatever the syllabus says.

1.3.2 Description of Curriculum

Here are descriptions of the activities you will do this term:

  • Weekly assignments: Homework assignments will involve applying/practicing the statistical technique(s) that is the focus of the week using a provided dataset. Because of the cumulative nature of the course, these assignments may also involve applying knowledge from previous weeks’ material.
  • Participation: This mostly relates to your participation in mandatory video calls. The tentative plan is to have two calls on Zoom during the semester. The second of these calls can potentially be combined with one of the oral exams. We may also try to organize one or more Zoom meetings with all or multiple of us together, in which case your participation in those will also count towards this participation grade.
  • Oral exams: You must take three oral exams, each occurring at some point during the weeks specified in the calendar. Each exam will be a one-on-one Zoom (online video) meeting between a student and me. During the exam, I will ask you questions to test your understanding of the concepts we cover and I will ask you to demonstrate data analysis tasks on your own computer while sharing your screen on Zoom. You are allowed to re-take an exam as many times as you would like, if you are not satisfied with your initial performance. If you want to get your exam dates on the calendar early, just e-mail me and we can definitely do that.
  • Final project: You will conduct a full statistical analysis that answers a research question with a provided dataset. You will present2 what you did to the rest of the class.

1.4 Required Materials

  • There is no required textbook that you need to purchase for this course. All reading-related resources will be freely available online.
  • You should have a computer that can do video meetings, word processing, web browsing, and spreadsheet viewing/editing.3
  • You must install Zoom on your computer. Note that you do not need to create an account.
  • You will need to have access to the free program RStudio.4 My plan is for everyone to just access this through the website http://rstudio.cloud, so that you don’t have to download anything to your computer.5 But you could also download R and RStudio to your own computer if you prefer. One of the first few homework assignments will walk you though setting this up, so you don’t need to do this until then.

1.5 Acknowledgments

  • The building blocks for this e-book are taken from A Minimal Book Example by Yihui Xie, available at https://github.com/rstudio/bookdown-demo. This work would not be possible without this excellent guide from Yihui.
  • Much of the content for this book is influenced by the teaching and research conducted by my colleagues and students.

  1. This is a footnote. You can go back to where you were reading by clicking on the little squiggle right here:

  2. I’m not sure yet if we’ll all meet on Zoom to present to each other or if we’ll do something else like make audio recordings of the presentations

  3. You can use Google Sheets online for free if you don’t have a spreadsheet program like Excel on your own computer. LibreOffice is another good option that is free.

  4. If you prefer to use a different data analysis platform such as Stata, SPSS, SAS, etc, this may be possible but we should discuss it first. I have chosen to use R and RStudio in this course because it is free and widely used.

  5. And so that we don’t have to go through the inevitable process of getting the program to work on each person’s individual computer. So far RStudio Cloud has worked without errors for my approximately 30 students and me over the last year, in various courses or instructional situations.