[R] [O/T] undergrads and R

John Fox jfox at mcmaster.ca
Tue Apr 25 15:37:12 CEST 2006

Dear Ales,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ales Ziberna [mailto:aleszib at gmail.com] 
> Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 1:15 AM
> To: Richard M. Heiberger
> Cc: r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch; John Fox
> Subject: Re: [R] [O/T] undergrads and R
> I will be also using R commander with undergrad students, who 
> actually already have some experience with R, however they 
> have been using it more as programing language than a 
> statistical tool and I want to get them more familiar with 
> this aspect of R.
> First, when I had my first look at R commander, I really 
> liked it, however, when I did a little more experiments, I 
> found it quite frustrating at times, especially by the fact 
> that when computing a certain statistics (for example mean), 
> you can select only one variable at the time. Are there any 
> plans to change this, so that a number of variables could be 
> chosen? 

This was a deliberate choice, made to discourage students from computing
statistics without thinking about them, but perhaps it's wrongheaded. I'd be
interested to hear what people think. 

It would be very simple to change the Numerical Summaries dialog to permit
more than one variable to be selected (in fact you could do it and recompile
the package if you wished). Are you referring only to the "Statistics ->
Summaries -> Numerical summaries" dialog, or are there other places where
you'd like more than one variable to be selected? Would you like a check-box
to select all numeric variables?

More generally, I'm open to considering suggestions for improving the Rcmdr.

> I would also prefer to have the variables sorted the 
> same way as they are in the data frame and and not 
> alphabetically. 

See the sort.names Rcmdr option, described in ?Commander.


> If this two (what I believe minor) things 
> could be improved, I would find R commander much more usable.
> Otherwise, I find it a grate package, especially when working 
> with social sciences students.
> Does anyone else have similar filings.
> Best regards,
> Ales Ziberna
> Richard M. Heiberger pravi:
> > This semester for the first time I have been using the 
> combination of 
> > R, R Commander (John Fox's package providing a menu-driven 
> interface 
> > to R), and RExcel (Erich Neuwirth's package for interfacing R with 
> > Excel).  The audience is the introductory Statistics class for 
> > Business undergradutes.  The short summary is that I think the 
> > combination works well for this audience.
> > 
> > I will be talking on my experience at the useR! conference 
> in June.  I 
> > added several additional menu items to Rcmdr for our group.  I sent 
> > the January ones (prior to the beginning of the semester) 
> to John Fox in January.
> > I will send another batch of menu items, those constructed 
> during the 
> > semester, as soon as the semester is complete.
> > 
> > The goal is to hide most of the programming from the students.  But 
> > not all of it.  I think it is very important for any user of a menu 
> > system to have at least a rudimentary idea of the 
> programming steps behind the menu.
> > Rcmdr supports this goal since it functions by generating R 
> language 
> > statements from the menu selections and displaying the 
> generated statements.
> > For example, I will casually change the cex or ylim of a generated 
> > plot statement.  I post the script window (generated and edited 
> > statements) from each class to the course website.  I do 
> not post the output window.
> > 
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> >

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