# [R] [O/T] undergrads and R

Ales Ziberna aleszib at gmail.com
Wed Apr 26 12:21:10 CEST 2006

```Dear John Fox,

thank you for your reply. I appologize for not finding the "sort.names"
option myself.

As for the option of choosing several variables at a time, I would like
to see this possibility everywhere where possible. Let me give a few
examples:
1. Calculating the mean of several variables (for example, I often want
to compute the mean of a set of variables measuring the same concept)
2. Recoding a set of variables with the same rule
3. Transforming a set of variables from factor to numeric or vice verse.
(This would be especially useful when using data read from SPSS, as all
variables with labels are converted to factors. These are often ordinal
variables measured on 5 or more point scale, which are often as close as
you can get in social sciences to interval variables. However for most
of the analysis (like regression, factor analysis ...), they have to be
treated as numeric.)

As to how this should be done, I agree that a check-box to select all
numeric variables might be to "no thingking" approach. I would just like
to have an option to select several variables, the same way as is done
now in for example factor analysis.

I do understand that you want the students to think what they are doing.
However I would like to present them the R commander as an alternative
to SPSS also for doing their assignments for other courses and I do not
believe they would be willing to make the change if they have to do so
much "clicks" just to compute averages for let say 20 variables.

I personally think that it is enough that the software does not allow
you (or the students) to do "wrong things" (like computing a mean of the
factor), especially not without thinking about it.

Another option I would like are:
1. An option to save (or actually to not delete) the results of let say
factor analysis, so I could use them for further analysis.
2. Currently, if I create a factor via command line, it is not
recognized my the menus (for example, I can not do a frequency table).
If I select a different data frame and then again the previous one as
the active data frame, the new factor is now recognized in the menus. So
I would also be satisfied by a refresh option for the active data frame.

That would be all for now. Thanks again for the reply and for creating
Rcmdr in the first place.

Best regards,
Ales

John Fox pravi:
> 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.
>
> Regards,
>  John
>
>> 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
>>> combination works well for this audience.
>>>
>>> I will be talking on my experience at the useR! conference
>> in June.  I
>>> 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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