LING 172 / PSYC 215

Data Science for Studying Language and the Mind

Fall 2021 Syllabus

Mon & Wed 10:15-11:15am MOOR 216

Exam 3 will be released tomorrow at 10am! The deadline has been extended to Dec 03 at midnight!

Teaching Team


Dr. Kathryn Schuler - Office Hours Mondays 11:15 - 12:15 on Zoom
Dr. Colin Twomey - Office Hours Wednesdays 11:15 - 12:15 on zoom

Lead TA

June Choe - Office Hours Tuesdays 4 - 5pm on zoom

Lab Assistants

Nikhil Avadhani - Office Hours Tuesdays 2:15 - 3:15pm in person (PCPSE building)
Sophie Faircloth - Office Hours Thursdays 1 - 2pm in person (Fisher-Bennett)
Salam Karadsheh - Office Hours Thursdays 6 - 7pm on zoom
Kevin Liang - Office Hours Fridays 1 - 2pm in person (DRL)

Getting Help



Welcome to Data Science for studying Language and the Mind! Data Sci for Lang & Mind is an entry-level course designed to teach basic principles of data science to students with little or no background in statistics or computer science. Students will learn to identify patterns in data using visualizations and descriptive statistics; make predictions from data using machine learning and optimization; and quantify the certainty of their predictions using statistical models. This course aims to help students build a foundation of critical thinking and computational skills that will allow them to work with data in all fields related to the study of the mind (e.g. linguistics, psychology, philosophy, cognitive science, neuroscience).

This is an introductory course and no specific background is assumed or required. Freshmen are very welcome!

Lab Schedule

Section Time Location LA
402 Lab Thursdays 10:15-11:15am BENN 222 Nikhil
403 Lab Thursdays 12:00-1:00pm BENN 222 Sophie
404 Lab Fridays 10:15-11:15am DRLB 4E19 Salam
405 Lab Fridays 12:00-1:00pm DRLB 4E19 Kevin




Schedule is subject to change. All lectures will be recorded and posted here a few minutes after each class.

Wk Lecture Readings Resources
1 Sep 01: Welcome Ch 1 first day of Penn classes (31)
Problem Set 1
2 Sep 06: Labor Day, no class!
Sep 08: Data visualization
Ch 2-3 Problem Set 2
3 Sep 13: R basics
Sep 15: Data transformation
Ch 4-5 course selection period ends (14)
Problem Set 3
4 Sep 20: Exploratory data analysis
Sep 22: Exam Review!
Ch 7, 9-11 Exam 1 due Fri
5 Sep 27: Data import
Sep 29: Tidy data
Ch 11-12 Problem Set 4
6 Oct 04: Relational data
Oct 06: Strings
Ch 13-14 Problem Set 5
7 Oct 11: Factors
Oct 13: Class Cancelled!
Ch 15-16 drop period ends (11)
fall break (14 - 17)

8 Oct 18: Functions
Oct 20: Exam 2 Review
Ch 17-19 Exam 2 due Mon
9 Oct 25: Vectors
Oct 27: Iteration
Ch 20-21 grade types change deadline (29)
Exam grace period closes Fri
10 Nov 01: Model basics & CI
Nov 03: More basics & CI
SM 1
SM 3
SM 5
advanced registration begins (1)
Problem Set 6
11 Nov 08: Model design
Nov 10: Model terms
SM 6 last day to withdraw (8)
12 Nov 15: Model formulas
Nov 17: Class cancelled!
SM 7 Exam 3 due Dec 3rd
13 Nov 22: Model coefficients
Nov 24: Friday classes, no class!
  R & F classes on T & W
thanksgiving break (25-28)

14 Nov 29: Fitting models to data
Dec 01: Correlation and variance
SM 8
SM 9
Exam 3 due Fri
15 Dec 06: Confidence in models
Dec 08: Exam 4 Review
SM 12 last day of classes (10)
16 Dec 13: Reading period, no class!
Dec 15: Finals week, no class!
  Exam 4 due Fri

How to do well in LING172


Grading scale

The table below shows the minimum score before rounding for letter grades. Grading in this course is not on a curve: there is room for everyone to do well!

A+ 97 A 93% A- 90% B+ 87% B 84% B- 80%
C+ 77% C 74% C- 70% D+ 67% D 64% D- 61%


I am not comfortable coming to the 80 person lecture in person due to COVID. Can I watch the lectures online instead?

Yes, of course! We know many students won’t feel comfortable in an enclosed space with this many people just yet. All lectures will be recorded and posted here a few minutes after class. You can watch on your own, or form a small group of peers to watch together if you are more comfortable.

Can I skip the fourth exam if I am happy with my grade on the first three?

Yes! You can skip the fourth exam and it will be dropped. Your grade will be based on the first three exams.

If I miss lab can I come to another recitation section that week?

Sure! You can join any lab session that will work for your schedule. But keep in mind that the rooms are small so it’s best to email the section TA to let them know.

I am not comfortable attending lab in person. What should I do?

We expect labs to have around 15-20 people each week, so they will be much smaller than lecture. If you still don’t feel comfortable, we recommend trying the problem sets on your own, and then attending virtual office hours to get help. You can also ask questions on Ed Discussion as you are working through them.

I noticed a mistake in the grading of my exam. How do I get this fixed?

We will look at your exam again if you make a formal re-grade request via Canvas within one week of getting your exam back.

I missed or failed an exam. What can I do to make it up?

Nothing. We don’t allow make-up exams or retakes. However, we drop your lowest exam score, so you can still do well in the class. Just make sure it doesn’t happen more than once!

Can I turn in my data journal late?

Yep! Data journals will be accepted without penalty through the last day of class (Dec 10th). The data journal assignment has been dropped.

I missed class, how can I catch up?

All of the lectures will be automatically recorded and posted to canvas a few minutes after class ends. You can watch the lectures when you are ready. We also recommend attending office hours and lab sections to make sure you don’t fall behind.

I do not feel well, tested positive for COVID, and/or need to quarantine. What should I do?

Please don’t come to class if you are unwell or under quarantine. Follow the steps in the question above (under “I missed class”) to catch up. If you miss a lab, you can try the problem sets on your own and schedule a virtual office hours to catch up. If you will miss an exam for this reason, let us know and we will work with you.

What will happen if one of the instructors or TAs does not feel well, tests positive, and/or needs to quarantine?

We will teach the course remotely if we need to, or fill in for each other if we can. We have a large teaching team, so this shouldn’t be an issue.