# [R] introducing R to high school students

Bert Gunter gunter.berton at gene.com
Wed Apr 18 07:38:31 CEST 2012

```<...snipped>

>> I anticipate keeping things very simple:
>> --objects and the fact that there is stuff inside them. str(), head(), tail()
>> --how to get data into R
>> --dataframes, as I imagine they will mostly be using single,
>> "rectangular" datasets
>> --a lot of graphics (I can't imagine that  plot(force, acceleration)
>> is beyond a high-schooler's capability.)
>> --simple descriptive statistics
>> --maybe t-tests, chi-square tests, and simple linear regression.
>>
>
> I have some experience in this and would have to agree with Indrajit
> that this is not a good idea.
>
> When I tried to teach R to a high school student it was not very
> successful.  Certainly based on that experience the list above is way
> too complex.  Don't teach anything on that list at all.  The number of
> concepts involved in that is simply overwhelming.

Oh amen amen!

I'd go farther: It's overwhelming for college students.

Farther yet: I've met very few scientists and engineers who understand
what a standard deviation is. Fewer still who understand the
difference between a sample statistic and a population parameter for
which it's an estimate.

This approach to "basic" statistics is (imho) symptomatic of why our
discipline is so widely disliked and misunderstood.

Cheers,
Bert

Also avoid teaching
> anything that requires complex installation if you want them to be
> able to carry it forward by themselves.
>
> I would expect the reaction would be that most will have no interest
> and the ones that do will be frustrated by the large number of
> concepts needed to get going.
>
> The only part that seemed to trigger any interest was when I showed
> the large list of colors available in colors() and then playing with
> inserting different colors in:
>
> colors()
> plot(1:5, col = "violetred")
>
> Assuming you are committed to this and go ahead, I would divide it
> into two parts:
>
> 1. a graphics demo -- make it clear its a demonstration so they have
> an appreciation of what is possible and you are not actually teaching
> anything in this portion.
>
> 2. Teach them how to install R, run the above two commands
> (substituting in different colors), how to exit and point out that
> there are many tutorials in:
> http://cran.r-project.org/other-docs.html
> and they can pick one they like (since the official documents will be
>
> If you do that then perhaps a small number will have sufficient
> interest to try it some more at home but I wouldn't be surprised if
> none do and that most or all would prefer something with more
> immediate gratification.
>
> --
> Statistics & Software Consulting
> GKX Group, GKX Associates Inc.
> tel: 1-877-GKX-GROUP
> email: ggrothendieck at gmail.com
>
> ______________________________________________
> R-help at r-project.org mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help
> and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.

--

Bert Gunter
Genentech Nonclinical Biostatistics

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