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

Christopher W. Ryan cryan at binghamton.edu
Fri Jan 17 16:07:06 CET 2014

I've never taught a complete course, but I recently conducted 2
"introduction to R" workshops, each about 5 hours long, for a class of
about 15 high school science students. Very basic. We emphasized
graphics. But by the end, we had gotten into conceptual stuff about the
population vs the sample, sampling variation, and the distribution of
test statistics. They loved it, and although I am of course biased, I
think it went well. We may do more.

I used base R, no GUI, on purpose. I wanted to convey to them the
advantages (and ease) of writing, saving, and sharing code. Literate
programming and reproducible research and all that.

I have everything we did in an emacs org file. I'd be happy to share it
with you if you'd like.

So maybe don't give up on command line just yet?

I also can't understand how engineering students, no matter where they
are in the course of their training, could be averse to writing code.


Christopher W. Ryan, MD, MS
SUNY Upstate Medical University Clinical Campus at Binghamton
425 Robinson Street, Binghamton, NY  13904

"Once we recognize that we do not err out of laziness, stupidity, or
evil intent, we can liberate ourselves from the impossible burden of
trying to be permanently right. We can take seriously the proposition
that we could be in error, without deeming ourselves idiotic or
unworthy." [Karen Schulz, in Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error]

Ranjan Maitra 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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