[R] Giving a first good impression of R to Social Scientists
B.Rowlingson at lancaster.ac.uk
Thu Aug 12 17:24:28 CEST 2004
Thomas Lumley wrote:
> On Thu, 12 Aug 2004, Rau, Roland wrote:
>>That is why would like to ask the experts on this list if anyone of you has
>>encountered a similar experience and what you could advise to persuade
>>people quickly that it is worth learning a new software?
The usual way of teaching R seems to be bottom-up. Here's the command
prompt, type some arithmetic, make some assignments, learn about
function calls and arguments, write your own functions, write your own
Perhaps a top-down approach might help certain cases. People using
point-n-click packages tend to use a limited range of analyses. Write
some functions that do these analyses, or give them wrappers so that
they get something like:
> myData = readDataFile("foo.dat")
Read 4 variables: Z, Age, Sex, Disease
> analyseThis(myData, response="Z", covariate="Age")
Z = 0.36 * Age, Significance level = 0.932
or whatever. Really spoon feed the things they need to do. Make it
really easy, foolproof.
Then show them what's behind the analyseThis() function. How its not
even part of the R distribution. How easy you made it for a beginner to
do a complex and novel analysis. Then maybe it'll "click" for them, and
they'll see how having a programming language behind their statistics
functions lets them explore in ways not thought possible with the
point-n-click paradigm. Perhaps they'll start editing analyseThis() and
write analyseThat(), start thinking for themselves.
Or maybe they'll just stare at you blankly...
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