[R] GUI's for teaching

Marc Feldesman feldesmanm at pdx.edu
Tue Jun 25 18:56:05 CEST 2002

I used R for a Data Analysis Course last year.  The class had both advanced 
undergraduates and graduates.  All students had already taken a basic 
statistics course taught by our statistics faculty in which Minitab was the 
software.  I had to work really hard to get students to understand the R/S 
paradigm -- and some never did grasp it -- but most eventually grasped the 
essence of what they needed.  I had students buying MASS3 and Spector, and 
gave them pdf copies of John Maindonald's notes, my own notes, Emmanuel 
Paridis' "R for Beginners".  Despite a rocky start, the real story is that 
5 students from that class have used or are using R to complete Bachelor's 
Honor Theses or Master's Theses.  I've used SPSS, SAS, and SYSTAT to teach 
the class before and have never had this kind of "return rate".

Perforce, the students using R/S also learned more about statistics, 
programming, and data management than any group of students using the Point 
and Click software.

It takes much more effort to teach with R than with "standard" Windows 
software, but the effort pays off for both the student and the instructor 
in the long run.


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