A anonymous Williams professor asked me about 300 level courses. Some students take a lot. Some take few. What does the data show?

Excellent question! My class played around with this topic on Friday. (I am always eager to answer questions from Williams professors.) Thanks to the Registrar for providing us with the data. Alas, I don’t have permission to publicly share the data, so, if you have other questions, please ask them in the comments. Basic answer:

See below for more discussion and another chart.

1) I am not bothering to show the code because, without the data, you can’t replicate the results anyway. If you want to see the code, let me know.

2) I think that the College ought to make this sort of data public, but I will never do so without permission.

3) Basic results seems sensible. Most students take between 4 and 7 300-level classes.

> summary(base$level.300)
   Min. 1st Qu.  Median    Mean 3rd Qu.    Max. 
   0.00    4.00    5.00    5.57    7.00   16.00 

That result is largely constant for graduating classes from 2005 to 2009.

> by(base$level.300, base$grad.year, summary)
base$grad.year: 2005
   Min. 1st Qu.  Median    Mean 3rd Qu.    Max. 
   0.00    4.00    5.00    5.73    7.00   14.00 
------------------------------------------------------------ 
base$grad.year: 2006
   Min. 1st Qu.  Median    Mean 3rd Qu.    Max. 
   0.00    4.00    5.00    5.38    7.00   14.00 
------------------------------------------------------------ 
base$grad.year: 2007
   Min. 1st Qu.  Median    Mean 3rd Qu.    Max. 
   0.00    4.00    5.00    5.57    7.00   16.00 
------------------------------------------------------------ 
base$grad.year: 2008
   Min. 1st Qu.  Median    Mean 3rd Qu.    Max. 
   0.00    4.00    5.00    5.44    7.00   16.00 
------------------------------------------------------------ 
base$grad.year: 2009
   Min. 1st Qu.  Median    Mean 3rd Qu.    Max. 
   1.00    4.00    6.00    5.75    7.00   14.00 

4) The next graphic is pretty, but doesn’t highlight any interesting trends.

5) This is a very rough analysis and does not account for various special cases. For example, transfer students only take 16 classes at Williams so we would not expect them to take as many 300 level courses as a 4 year student. But, at the same time, it is not clear that percentage of 300-level courses is the variable of interest. We also would like to distinguish between students who take lots of 300-level courses because they double major and those who take such courses outside their major.

6) Questions? I would be especially interested in answering questions from faculty readers. Need to build up that goodwill account!

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