A.4 Practical matters
Class ground rules: This course operates in a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment. That applies to class meetings, office hours, posting on discussion boards, and any other communications you send as part of this course. As a college and a community, we value diversity of age, race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, disability, and other identities, visible or nonvisible.
If at any time during this course you are made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, I encourage you to talk to me about it. You can also use one of the other contact methods described in the resources.
Academic integrity and the honor code: You’re responsible for doing your work in this course both in accordance with stated rules (which may be different for different assignments) and with a sense of fairness and integrity. The section of the student handbook dealing with the Honor Code can be found here: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/student-handbook/student-accountability. You can also find a helpful guide to avoiding plagiarism here: https://plagiarism.arts.cornell.edu/tutorial/index.cfm. (Yes, it is possible to commit plagiarism in stats or math!)
Very briefly, academic integrity means that you do not seek any unfair advantages over other students, and that all work you present as your own is your own. But the details of that can get complicated. I’ve tried to be very clear about what collaboration and resources are appropriate for each assignment, but if you have any questions or uncertainties about what something means, or whether something is okay, please contact me. I am very happy to talk to you about this. I am much, much happier to talk to you about it before something happens.
Prerequisites: Stat 242 or equivalent, and a willingness to devote regular time to working on this course.
In general, if you are ever unsure whether you’re supposed to know some bit of material already – or concerned that you don’t – I encourage you to ask me (or a classmate!) about it. Sometimes I actually don’t expect you to know it yet. And if I do expect you to know it, I’m happy to get you the help you need to pick it up.
A.4.2 Access and accommodations
Accessibility: My goal is to create a class that’s accessible, inclusive, and rewarding for everyone. This means accommodating everyone’s disability and accessibility needs, in addition to any logistical issues that may come up – especially in this weird semester.
If anything like this applies to you, come and talk to me. Sooner is better! You can also get in touch with the folks over at AccessAbility Services (https://www.mtholyoke.edu/accessability) for much more help.
Exceptions, extensions, etc.: Given the world in which we find ourselves, this course is already designed to be flexible (see more here). But if something comes up that stretches that built-in flexibility, tell me about it as soon as possible. We can often work out an alternative plan or accommodation, but there is much less I can do if you come to me after the fact. See here for more on this.
Books: There is one required “book” for this course, An Introduction to Statistical Learning by James, Witten, Hastie, and Tibshirani. Happily, it is available as a free PDF from the website https://www.statlearning.com/ . Yay! There should also be one or two copies on reserve in the library if you’re tired of looking at screens.
Electronics: You will also need a suitable electronic device. All of the work for this course should be doable via web browser; we’ll be using RStudio Server so you do not need to install R on your local device, although you can if you want to. But you will need to do a lot of typing and have multiple things open at once. I recommend you have access to an actual computer unless you’re really good with a teeny tiny keyboard, though you can certainly use your phone/tablet for some things during the course. If you have any questions or issues around devices (including accessibility issues, restrictions on camera use, not having a laptop to bring to class, etc.) let me know.
A.4.4 Legal notes
Public health: We’ll follow Mount Holyoke’s rules…which may change as circumstances evolve over the course of the semester. For right now, here’s the current situation:
- Wear a mask. Nose and mouth. All the time. We’re in a moderately tight space, and you’ll be working closely with other people. If you need to drink water or something, try and step out of the classroom to do so.
- Please, please, please do not come to class if you are feeling sick, or if you are supposed to isolate. I will help you get notes from classmates about the discussion or join by Zoom, and you can do activities/labs remotely. This is really important to help us feel comfortable being in a room together and doing group work.
- Please do come to class if you are not feeling sick (or otherwise in isolation). This stuff is why we have a campus in the first place :)
- …but only come to your assigned section, unless you have arranged with me for a special exception. We’re close to room capacity so we can’t really handle drop-ins.
Recording: By default, I will not record our synchronous class meetings or office hours. I may record your project presentations, but I will not post the recordings publicly. There may at times be a special session (like a review session on a particular topic) that is recorded so that people who can’t make the scheduled time can still see it. If so, I’ll note that the session will be recorded when I announce it, and again at the start of the session.
Title IX: Mount Holyoke is committed to providing a safe learning environment for all students that is free of all forms of discrimination and sexual harassment, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. If you (or someone you know) has experienced or experiences any of these incidents, know that you are not alone. There are staff members trained to support you in navigating campus life, accessing health and counseling services, providing academic and housing accommodations, helping with legal protective orders, and more.
Please be aware that all faculty members are responsible employees. This means that if you tell me about a situation involving sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, I must share that information with Shannon Da Silva, the Title IX Coordinator. Although I have to make that notification, you will control how your case will be handled, including whether or not you wish to pursue a formal complaint. Our goal is to make sure you are aware of the range of options available to you and have access to the resources you need.
If you are looking for confidential resources (people who will not share what you tell them, except by your consent, or if there’s an imminent threat to someone’s safety), good options include Counseling Services (https://www.mtholyoke.edu/counseling, 24/7 support line 413-538-2037) or Health Services (https://www.mtholyoke.edu/health).