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Re: st: A Word to Future Authors
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.
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.
+49 (030) 25491-361
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