R-alpha: help files of base package

Peter Dalgaard BSA p.dalgaard@kubism.ku.dk
12 Nov 1997 11:34:40 +0100

Friedrich Leisch <Friedrich.Leisch@ci.tuwien.ac.at> writes:

> Second thing is that a couple of students complained about the R-notes
> ... they simply don't think it's a good intro to R because it's rather
> longish, but has bo index etc. ... I can't complain about it, but I
> had this feedback from several R novices independently. Has anybody
> had similar experiences?

Hmm, when students say that something is not good enough, they're in a
sense right by definition (excepting cases where student aggravation
is used as a deliberate pedagogical tool -- something *I* wouldn't
dare try...), but that doesn't mean that the reasons they give should
be taken at face value.

I'd say that R-notes is about three times too *short* for a tutorial.
Discounting the examples it's about 60 pages; the notes I'm writing
for my medical PhD's are already twice that size and will probably end
somewhere around 170 pages, and this covers absolutely *no*
programming. Also, R-notes has no pedagogical sequencing (i.e. read
the first n pages and be able to do something useful, the next n
learning some more, etc.), no repetition and extension of earlier
stuff, etc.

There's nothing really wrong with that, because that isn't the kind of
document the R-notes tries to be, it's more of a structured language
overview. Some people can actually learn the language from that kind
of material alone (it's certainly better than starting from the manual
pages), but many others will feel it's like learning a human language
from a grammar book. Once you *have* learned it, document like R-notes
become much more useful than tutorial because of the stricter
structure. An index would probably be a good thing in all cases,

What experience do people have with textbooks on S? Do we already have
something that fits the students' (i.e. our) needs or do "we" need to
write it ourself? (Not quite knowing who "we" should be..)

   O__  ---- Peter Dalgaard             Blegdamsvej 3  
  c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics     2200 Cph. N   
 (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen   Denmark      Ph: (+45) 35327918
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