1 Basic Information

Instructor David M. Kaplan

Online Course Access Canvas, https://courses.missouri.edu

Help For questions about class material and logistics that are not specific to your personal life, please post to the appropriate Discussion on Canvas. I plan to respond to any open questions every Tuesday and Friday (a TA may also respond other days). has details. If you feel the Discussions are not sufficient help with the material, please send me a message in Canvas to let me know and set up an appointment on Zoom (or in person if you’re in Columbia).

Personal Issues If you actually have a question that’s totally unrelated to any other student (e.g., an econometric problem at your job, house burned down, etc.), then you may send me a message through Canvas (which goes to my email).

Dates/Times Please double-check all submission deadline dates and times. Canvas should display them in your local time zone, but they may seem unusual since they attempt to accommodate students across many time zones. If I ever mention dates/times, they refer to local time in Columbia, Missouri (you can Google “Missouri time”).

Course Prerequisites Among the official prerequisites in the course catalog, the most critical is an introductory statistics and probability course because Introductory Econometrics builds upon fundamental concepts like probability distributions, sampling distributions, estimation, and confidence intervals. That said, this course includes some review of such topics; you can click the link to the textbook (below) and examine Chapters 2 and 3. Other listed prerequisites are helpful but less critical: this course occasionally uses economic ideas and theory to assess statistical models, and partial derivatives may deepen understanding (but calculus is not used explicitly).

2 Textbook, Other Resources, and Software

Textbook and Videos I developed the textbook Introductory Econometrics: Description, Prediction, and Causality specifically for this course. Optional videos are in this playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC9djFuhVkt6ye3LK_Wet8DCHaizNPsmI and linked throughout the textbook. For textbook access:

Other Resources Additional good, free educational resources are linked at the beginning of each textbook chapter. Like the videos, these are optional; assessments are based only on the material in the textbook itself.

Software You will use statistical software. R is recommended; Stata is also allowed; see Chapter 1 for details. (“Stata/IC” is sufficient.) If your job requires you use something else (SAS, etc.), please ask me ASAP.

Software Accessibility and Privacy Certain accessibility standards may not be met by R and/or RStudio. There is an archived BrailleR package for blind users, but it is not actively supported. For help, please contact our Disability Services team (see the “Students with Disabilities” link in the “Support & Policies” tab in Canvas). Stata has an accessibility statement. There is a Privacy Policy for RStudio and privacy policy for Stata.

Textbook Accessibility and Privacy No data of yours is collected when you view the textbook (it’s just a PDF file). Please let me know if you have accessibility issues, and I will work with you to find a solution.

3 Course Description and Goals (Learning Objectives)

This class introduces fundamental concepts and methods in econometrics, for description, prediction, and causality. The goal is practical ability to understand, critique, and conduct empirical econometric analysis. Mathematical models aid deeper, more precise understanding of practical issues. Specific methods include many variations on regression, as well as forecasting and quantifying uncertainty. The empirical exercises offer practice writing code for such methods.

The learning objectives for this class are listed as the Textbook Learning Objectives (TLOs) in the textbook. By the end of the semester, you will be able to do everything listed in the TLOs.

4 Schedule, Assessments, Graduate Credit

Schedule and Deadlines Each week of the semester has its own Module in Canvas. This describes the learning materials and assessments for that week, with links to the corresponding Discussions and assessments. You can see the submission deadline and other details for each assessment by clicking on it in Canvas.

Assessment: Exercise Sets Each exercise set (ES) is a set of multiple choice questions you complete in Canvas. You may discuss ES questions with other students (and me), but you must submit your own. You may submit each ES only once. Soon after the submission deadline, you’ll see your responses along with whether they were correct or not, so late submissions receive zero credit. (You will not automatically see the correct response if yours was incorrect, but you’re welcome to ask on the discussion board about ES questions you can’t figure out on your own.)

Assessment: Empirical Exercises Each empirical exercise (EE) consists of writing and running R (or Stata) code, following relatively explicit instructions. The different EE options are at the end of each chapter in the textbook. These are submitted through Canvas, where there are further submission details and scoring rubrics. Since most students are new to statistical software, empirical exercises are scored primarily on effort. You may discuss EE steps with other students (and me), but you must submit your own.

Assessment: Exams Each exam is in Canvas and multiple choice, very similar to an ES (in both structure and content; e.g., no coding questions), but with more questions and restricted time (see Canvas for details). The instructions say, “You may use any materials you want: eBook, textbook, Wikipedia, notes, etc. But, you may not consult with any other person (whether in person, by text, email, etc.). There is no penalty for guessing.” Although there is technically a time limit, almost all students submit exams before the limit, often an hour or more before.

Assessment: Discussion Questions Each (non-exam) textbook chapter also has discussion questions (DQs) throughout the chapter. In Canvas, you respond to one of them (your choice), and you can then optionally read and reply to other students’ responses. Your score is entirely based on participation, i.e., did you submit a response or not? You may discuss DQs with other students, but you must submit your own.

Assignment Credit: ECONOM 4371 Not every assignment is mandatory. If you are enrolled in ECONOM 4371 (not 7371), then you may choose to submit any 10 ESs, any 5 EEs, and any 10 DQs. More specifically, your lowest ES, EE, and DQ scores will be dropped (or replaced by scores of 100%), so that only your best scores count. Of course, to get the most out of this course, you may still wish to do and submit all the ESs, EEs, and DQs. Note: the FOR CLERICAL USE ONLY assignments in the course website are to help replace your lowest scores with 100% scores.

Assignment Credit: ECONOM 7371 If you’re in ECONOM 7371, then instead you must submit (at least) 10 empirical exercises, but everything else is the same as for ECONOM 4371 above. Note: the FOR CLERICAL USE ONLY assignments in the course website are to account for the difference between how many empirical exercises can be dropped for 4371 vs. 7371 students.

5 Discussion Boards

5.1 Discussion Boards Structure: Where to Post What?

There are different Discussions for different types of posts.

“Logistical/administrative questions” is for your questions like, “is the running Total Grade Estimate in Canvas a reliable measure?” Often the answer is in the syllabus or can be seen in Canvas, so please check first.

“Chapter X: your questions (optional)” is for your questions about the material in Chapter X (1, 2, 3, …). You are encouraged to ask questions here when working through the assignments (Exercise Sets and Empirical Exercises), as long as it’s not just, “What’s the answer to Question 3?” You can also ask questions here about exam questions you missed (or guessed correct but don’t understand); e.g., if Question 38 on the final exam is about material from Chapter 15, then ask about it in the Chapter 15 Discussion.

“Chapter X: textbook DQs” is for your Discussion Question responses each chapter.

5.2 Discussion Boards “Etiquette”

First, obviously, be respectful to each other (although I have never had issues with this before).

Second, start your post with an abbreviation of the corresponding assessment question, if applicable. This helps other students and me to find relevant posts more easily (with the search/filter function). For example, start your post, “ES4.10: if the conditional distribution…” to ask about Question 10 on the Chapter 4 Exercise Set. Other example abbreviations: write “DQ6.2” to reply to Discussion Question 6.2; “mid1.8” for Question 8 on Midterm 1; “final Q11” for Question 11 on the final exam.

Third, if you want to link to another post, search for it within that Discussion (using the text box next to the Unread button), then “right-click” (or two-finger tap or…) on the “View in discussion” link and select “Copy link address” (or something similar).

Fourth, try to keep your posts vertically compact. The Discussions and subthreads can get very long, so this helps make it easier to scroll through. For example, do not sign your name in your post; we can see your name already. Do not add extra blank lines (besides the default spacing between paragraphs). Do not include a separate line of greeting like “Hello,” etc. (It’s fine to still say “Thank you” and such, though not required; unlike a totally blank line or writing your name a second time, it has some substantive content, so I don’t consider it superfluous.)

6 Expectations

What Your Peers and I Expect from You You should access the course site regularly (multiple times per week) to read announcements, access and submit exercises, interact on the discussion board, etc. On the discussion board, you are expected to participate while showing respect for others, and helping or receiving help as appropriate. Please consider that sarcasm and related joking is easily misunderstood online. Together we can build a polite, respectful community with the shared goal of learning econometrics.

What You May Expect from Me You may expect me to do the following.

7 Course Success

To succeed in this class, you should do the following.

Regarding the debated existence of “dumb questions”: I personally find some questions to be smarter than others (having asked my own share of “dumb” questions over the years), but you can expect me to treat you with the same level of respect regardless of your question’s intelligence. I equally highly value all honest questions.

8 Late Work Policy

For exercise sets and exams, since feedback is provided (approximately) at the submission deadline, late submissions receive a score of zero. Please, please check and double-check the deadlines, especially for exams; they may be somewhat odd depending on your time zone (like 4:59am in Lagos or something).

In case of an emergency such as serious illness, family emergency, or a legitimate conflict with recognized University activities, you must contact me immediately (i.e., before the exam or deadline) to request a makeup assessment and provide documentation of the emergency. If you miss (and don’t make up) both midterms or the final, then you will likely get an F as a semester grade. “Incomplete” is only given in very special circumstances; see https://registrar.missouri.edu/policies-procedures/incomplete-grades/

9 Grading Criteria

Table 1 shows the relative weighting of assignments that comprise the total semester score.

Table 1: Relative weighting of assignments (percent of total).
Assignment Percent
DQ participation 10
Empirical Exercises 20
Exercise Sets 20
Midterm exam #1 12
Midterm exam #2 18
Final exam (cumulative) 20
Total 100

Letter grades: A range is 90–100% (with 98% the threshold for A+ and 93% the threshold between A- and A), B range 80–89.99% (thresholds 87% and 83%), C 70–79.99% (thresholds 77% and 73%), D 60–69.99% (thresholds 67% and 63%), F below that. (The D range only applies to ECON 4371; graduate classes at MU may not assign D grades, so the D range would become F for ECON 7371.) Any “curve,” if it seems appropriate, will not enforce predetermined grade proportions but rather move everyone up together; you are not competing with other students for a fixed number of A grades. Scores are not rounded before mapping to letter grades. (If you really want rounding: subtract 0.5 percentage points from the curve but round before mapping; it’s equivalent.)

For example, if the “curve” adds 5 to everybody’s raw semester total, and your total was 84.7%, then adding 5 gives 89.7%, which is a B+. Or if you had 85.1%, then adding 5 gives 90.1%, A-. (Note that this is equivalent to adding 4.5 and rounding before mapping to letter grades.)

10 Technical Requirements and Help

Technical help: Mizzou IT Help Desk, https://doit.missouri.edu/tech-support

This class is fully online, so you must have reliable access to a computer connected to the internet. Other basic technical skills are required, such as navigating the course website and using a text editor. Additionally, you must use R or Stata statistical software, which may require you to download and install software; see Chaper 1 in the textbook for details.

If you anticipate internet connection problems during an exam: try to find a different computer that won’t have problems. Failing that, print-to-PDF the exam as soon as you open it (so you have a .pdf file on your computer), and then start marking answers in your copy of the PDF. Email me the marked .pdf file within the allotted time window (I can see the time you send the email and the time you started the exam in Canvas). Then try copying answers from the .pdf back into Canvas, to save me the time (and possibly reduced accuracy) of manually grading. As a last resort, you could send me the PDF (or clear pictures of it) with your phone using cell data. Most important: failing to submit the exam by the deadline and only telling me about internet problems afterward will not get you credit.

11 Other Resources

Library You may access the University of Missouri Library Distance Education Support Service page at https://libraryguides.missouri.edu/distance/

Student Support Click “Support & Policies” on Canvas. There, Tech Support has various resources for tech support, and Learning Resources has links to resources like the Learning Center. (Note: I strongly advise against NetTutor for this particular course; I have seen past transcripts where they misled students, providing wrong information that caused students to do worse on the exercise sets!)

Other Resources See the University’s Academic Policies and Expectations, also in “Support & Policies.” The “Other Student Resources” page is linked there, for Financial Aid, Counseling Services, and Academic Advising.

12 Other Policies

Academic Integrity Pledge “I strive to uphold the University values of respect, responsibility, discovery, and excellence. On my honor, I pledge that I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance on this work.” You are expected to adhere to this pledge on all graded work whether or not they are explicitly asked in advance to do so. Further details on academic integrity are in Canvas: in “Support & Policies,” under “MU Policies & Expectations,” see “Academic Integrity.”

Other Policies Also in “Support & Policies” under “MU Policies & Expectations,” see

and anything else that interests you. Information concerning student grade appeal procedures and non-academic grievances and appeals may be found in the Student Handbook.