[R] re: GUI's for teaching

Ko-Kang Kevin Wang Ko-Kang at xtra.co.nz
Tue Jun 25 23:13:27 CEST 2002

At the University of Auckland R is taught to second year undergraduate
students.  I could still remember when I was first introduced to R as an
undergraduate in the second year data analysis class (which was quite a few
years ago!), at the beginning I found it challenging, but later on I fell in
love with its command line interface.

In fact, the way the Department of Statistics teaches R here is for
lecturers to teach the commands in class (i.e. on the board/OHP), then send
the students off to the labs with assignments, and if they have any
questions, lab demonstrators are always around to help.  When I was a
student I found it is the easiet way to master R; and now being a
demonstrator I found students find it easy to learn, when there is someone
around to help when they have trouble.  Most of them have no command-line
experience before (as at first year they were taught Excel and Minitab), but
they manage to learn at least the basics at the end.

I think the question is not whether the undergraduates can handle a
command-line programme, but rather "how" it is taught.  R is even taught in
a new first year visualisation course at our department here and students
still manage to learn it quite well (some even learnt how to write basic

As for a GUI interface, I think the current GUI in Windows is good enough.
I prefer to run my scripts in a single BATCH file most of the time anyways.


Ko-Kang Wang

Ko-Kang Kevin Wang
Post Graduate PGDipSci Student
Department of Statistics
University of Auckland
New Zealand

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