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From |
Ulrich Kohler <kohler@wz-berlin.de> |

To |
statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu |

Subject |
Re: st: A Word to Future Authors |

Date |
Thu, 11 Aug 2005 11:32:45 +0200 |

Raphael Fraser wrote: > I have a complaint about introductory Stata books. Recently, I have > been searching for "intro to Stata" books to teach masters level > students how to use Stata. Of the two intro books at Stata's book > store none had EXERCISES to reinforce concepts. Why should I buy a > book and create my own exercises? I feel cheated. While these books > meet the objective of 'illustrating' how to use some commands they > fail to reinforce concepts. Have anyone ever seen a statistics text > book without problems at the end of each chapter? Why is that? Because > Statistics authors know that their students will never fully > understand certain concepts until they attempt to solve problems > themselves. Why should Stata's intro books be different? If authors > are serious about Stata then there must be problems at the end of each > chapter. We all know that seeing something done is not enough. > Students will never learn Stata until they actually attempt some task > in Stata. Dear Raphael, as one of the authors of "Data Analysis Using Stata" I first like to apologize that you feel cheated. I guess that you have bought the book because something make you to believe that there are readily designed exercises at the end of each section. Please let me know from were you got such an impression and we will try to change this. You made a point that introductions on Stata should contain exercises. In fact, many books on statistics contains exercises in order to actively use what you have learned theoretically beforehand. In "Data Analysis Using Stata" we use a different approach. We, the authors of "Data Analysis Using Stata", wholeheartedly agree with your claim that one can only learn analyzing Data by doing it. In fact this was the guideline for writing the book. Therfore we give the reader problems and guide him through the solutions. We urge the reader to read the book sitting in front of the computer, and to follow each step of our solutions. We sometimes ask questions to the reader and recommend him to find the solution himself before read on. We even make "mistakes" if we thing that the reader learns more from a mistake than from a readily presented solution. Many of the concepts we explain are getting reinforced by using them over and over again. In this sense I think the claim that our book does not contain exercises is wrong. It explains general concepts *by exercises*. Naturally, what I have said does not prohibit to present separate "exercise-sections" anyway. We also thought about that but decided not to do it. Additional exercises means additional pages and additional pages makes books more expensive. Additional exercises should be therefore only included if students make use of them. Here are some of our reasons why we thought that students will not make much use of them. - Students, who use the book as a self-learning text, have a specific reason why they want to learn Stata. That is: they have own problems. After working through the guided exercises in our book, they turn to their own problems to reinforce the new concepts. - Teachers, who use the book in their classes, tend to use examples from their discipline. An epidemiologist don't want an exercise, were he has to regress, say, voting behavior on issue-orientation, while political scientist do not bother about sensitivities of diagnostical test. - Students in university-classes, usually need to do homework assignments given by the teacher. It would not make too much sense for the teacher to give them the exercises given in the book, with solutions readily available on the internet. Our book has been available in Germany since 2001. When I use the book for teaching I sometimes provide additional exercises, however usually students want to make exercises with their own data. As of today we have also not heard from colleagues, who use the book in their classes, that they miss separate exercise-sections. Contrary we have quite a bunch of positive reactions from both, Students and Teachers. All in all this makes us belive, that there is enough learning by doing in "Data Analysis Using Stata". As cultures may differ between Germany and the US we will carefully observe the reactions of American students and teachers. If we get the impression that there is a real need for exercise-sections we will be happy to provide exercises either in a future edition or as additional material on the internet. Many regards Ulrich Kohler -- kohler@wz-berlin.de +49 (030) 25491-361 * * For searches and help try: * http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/res/findit.html * http://www.stata.com/support/statalist/faq * http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/stata/

**Follow-Ups**:**Re: st: A Word to Future Authors***From:*Philip Ryan <philip.ryan@adelaide.edu.au>

**References**:**st: A Word to Future Authors***From:*Raphael Fraser <raphael.fraser@gmail.com>

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