Mon 25 Jan 2010

## 300 Level Courses

Posted by **David Dudley Field '25** under **Faculty, STAT 10/ECON 18, Transcript Data: 2005 -- 2009** at 1:08 pm

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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## 2 Responses to “300 Level Courses”

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Parent '12 says:

Sorry, Dave- What are you trying to communicate with your graphs? What do the data tell us?

You might look at this:

http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_vdqi

What’s your x-axis?

“Number of 300-level courses” — Is the “number,” the class size, number of students registered is a 300-level course?

January 25th, 2010 at 1:25 pmTodd says:

@Parent ’12: These are normalized histograms. Y is the percentage of people who took X 300-level courses for a particular class year. The big chart is combined data for everyone who graduated between 2005 and 2009.

@David: It would be interesting to see this in the context of other numbered classes. How does the number of 300-level classes compare to the number of 400-level classes? Does Williams even have a consistent convention for what’s 300-level and what’s 400-level? I don’t really remember much of a distinction between 300’s and 400’s in terms of difficulty or depth.

January 25th, 2010 at 2:43 pm