[R] demonstrating R in introductory class using point-and-click software

Dennis Murphy djmuser at gmail.com
Thu Jan 16 08:49:50 CET 2014

Hi Ranjan:

I think this is an important and well-posed question. AFAIR, sciviews
provides a fairly sophisticated GUI for R, but I haven't looked at it
in a while. The two packages I'd suggest you look at are John Fox's R
Commander (package Rcmdr...and note all the plug-ins!) and Ian
Fellows' Deducer package, both of which use a more sophisticated GUI
than the R GUI console in Windows.

Deducer runs on top of Java; it needs both rJava and JGR. If you're
using 64-bit R, you also need 64-bit Java installed; if you're content
with 32-bit R, then 32-bit Java is all you need. I know that Deducer
runs pretty smoothly on 32-bit R, but for 64-bit, you'll need to be a
bit more vigilant about the Java interface. For classroom purposes, I
would think 32-bit R is sufficient.

R Commander uses Tcl/Tk to program the GUI, and since a version of
Tcl/Tk comes bundled with binary versions of R, you don't have to
worry too much about the interface.

Take notice that both packages have plug-in packages that you can load
on top of the standard GUI.

I find it a little disheartening that in this era, engineers in
training are averse to programming, though. Sigh..


On Wed, Jan 15, 2014 at 7:22 PM, Ranjan Maitra
<maitra.mbox.ignored at inbox.com> wrote:
> Dear friends,
> OK, I did not think that it would ever come down to this, but I am
> here with a question on what would be the best point-and-click approach
> to using R in the classroom in a way that the students can also follow
> and exhibit (on their own).
> So let me explain: I am teaching an introductory-level statistics class
> for introductory first- and second-year civil and industrial
> engineering students. This is a basic class following the book (not
> important): Basic Engineering Data Collection and Analysis by Stephen B.
> Vardeman and John Marcus. The class is very basic, and has
> traditionally relied on JMP and Excel (less prevalent) to illustrate
> data examples. I don't want to use either because I am a proponent of
> OSS, and also because I find these two too cumbersome to handle. Also,
> I don't think I have the time (and the students do not have the
> inclination, I am told) to handle even basic interactive programming.
> So, I was wondering if people with more experience would have
> suggestions on what would be best to use.
> I apologize if this has been discussed quite a bit here, but as I said
> before, I did not think that it would come to this, so I basically did
> not pay much attention.
> Thanks very much for suggestions and experiences!
> Best wishes,
> Ranjan
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