[R] Input appreciated: R teaching idea + a way to improve R-wiki

Bill.Venables at csiro.au Bill.Venables at csiro.au
Mon Oct 22 06:33:10 CEST 2007

I think you need to see how things work before making any decision on
this.  While the principle seems OK, in a optimistic sort of way, you
may be a little disappointed by the outcome.  Some will likely be
superb, useful, well written and accessible.  Others, I suspect, will
fall short of this ideal, with some falling a fair way short.  That's
the way students learn, after all.  They should use these exercises to
straighten things out in their own minds, and some of them seem to have
rather twisted ideas, at least initially, even at "graduate-level".

Some people argue it's useful to see the learning process in action, and
some books I could mention seem to be written this way - but they don't
get very good reviews.  I just think there is a real danger here of
giving misleading and inefficient teaching materials a spurious cloak of
legitimacy, even if there are disclaimers all over it.  I see a need to
be very cautious about this, in other words.

Bill Venables
CSIRO Laboratories
PO Box 120, Cleveland, 4163
Office Phone (email preferred): +61 7 3826 7251
Fax (if absolutely necessary):  +61 7 3826 7304
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mailto:Bill.Venables at csiro.au

-----Original Message-----
From: r-help-bounces at r-project.org [mailto:r-help-bounces at r-project.org]
On Behalf Of Matthew Keller
Sent: Monday, 22 October 2007 9:45 AM
To: R list
Subject: [R] Input appreciated: R teaching idea + a way to improve

Hi all,

I will be teaching a graduate-level course on R at CU Boulder next
semester. I have a teaching idea that might also help improve the R
wiki page... I wanted to know what you all thought of it and wanted to
solicit some advice about doing it.

During the latter part of the course, students will choose a topic of
interest (e.g., hierarchical linear modeling), and show how to achieve
it in R. They would present their findings to the class, and would
also be responsible for writing a concise but well-written "How To"
manual on the topic. These would be ~ 5-10 pages and would include
basic background of the statistical procedure and a commented example
with code in R. The goal would be for these to read like Baron & Li's
"Notes on the use of R for psychology experiments and questionnaires."

Originally I was going to post these as PDFs on my own web-page and
let them grow into a compendium of how-to manuals as I teach this
course over the years. However, perhaps a better idea, and one that
probably benefits more people, is to have my students post their short
manuals (not as PDFs but rather typed in) on the R-wiki page.

Does this seem like a good idea to folks?

Another question has to do with how barren the current R wiki page
is... is it still being actively developed or has the community given
up on it?

Finally, any thoughts on where on the R-wiki site we should post our
"How To" manuals? The "tips and tricks" section seems to barely be
more than snippets of conversations from this list-serve (often sans
the context). My guess is that the "Guides" section is where these
should go.

Your input would be most appreciated. Best,


Matthew C Keller
Asst. Professor of Psychology
University of Colorado at Boulder

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PLEASE do read the posting guide
and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.

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