[R-sig-teaching] I need your thoughts on teaching with R

Albyn Jones jones at reed.edu
Mon Mar 9 22:09:08 CET 2009

I should have noted this at the beginning of the thread rather than
now, but forthe record, there is an R special-interest-group mailing
list called R-sig-teaching where this might also be of interest.


On Fri, Mar 06, 2009 at 11:28:41AM -0600, Andrew Zieffler wrote:
> Hello Everyone,
> I hope this email finds you all well. I have been asked to write a paper 
> that discusses some suggested practices based on learning theory and 
> cognition research for using R in teaching statistics. In thinking about 
> framing this paper I have been considering all of the instructional 
> choices that have to be made. For example, should one use the base 
> graphics, lattice, ggplots, etc? Should there be instructional sessions 
> just devoted to R or should it be completely integrated and students 
> introduced to functions and the like as they need it? What additional 
> supplemental materials should be made available to students to help them 
> learn R? And there are many more of these types of questions and 
> decisions that need to be made.
> As I have looked at many of the texts that have incorporated R they all 
> seem to have a similar approach of introducing simple operators such as 
> addition, subtraction, etc Then moving to assignment; the idea of 
> vectors; functions etc. It is unclear to me if there is a reason for 
> this pattern or if it is based on tradition? Maybe this lends itself to 
> developing better skills for students who will go on and do more 
> programming in R, but --- at least in our courses --- there are also a 
> host of students who will only ever use R as a data analysis tool.
> All of this is a very long-winded way of asking for your help. I would 
> love to hear your thoughts on the following:
> 1) What are the instructional decisions that a person needs to make if 
> they are going to be teaching statistics using R?
> 2) What decisions have you yourself made and what were your reasons?
> 3) How do you teach with R? Do you have sessions on R and other sessions 
> where content is taught? Is the computing fully integrated with the 
> content? Or some combination?
> 4) If you have the heterogeneous group of students (some going on to 
> program in R, others just trying to get through, etc.) how do we deal 
> with this? Do we need to have different types of assignments and 
> materials for the different students?
> Thank you in advance.
> Andy
> -- 
> Andrew Zieffler, Ph.D.
> Educational Psychology
> University of Minnesota
> 167 Educational Sciences Building
> 56 East River Road
> Minneapolis, MN 55455
> Email: zief0002 at umn.edu
> http://www.tc.umn.edu/~zief0002
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