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Re: st: Stata vs SPSS

From   SamL <>
Subject   Re: st: Stata vs SPSS
Date   Mon, 16 Oct 2006 08:55:19 -0700 (PDT)

I agree that this is often a question of non-GUI vs. GUI, at least in the
minds of students.  I taught a course a year ago in which undergraduates
were expected to conduct statistical analysis.  I decided to use Stata and
teach via commands, mainly I decided this because when I talk with
students who learned via a GUI interface it seems they have a very rigid,
static understanding of data that is something out there they are given,
rather than a fluid, dynamic via of data as something they construct and
mold so as to address their queston.  I am not saying anyone else has this
experience, I am just saying it has been my experience.  So, I decided to
teach sans GUI.

The social science course required students to construct a question,
locate data (usually via the ICPSR depository), and get the data in shape
to analyze.  Then, over several weeks, I introduced them to a series of
univariate and multivariate techniques, including OLS regression, logits
and probits.  The emphasis was on intuitive understanding, not rigorous

In teaching the course I would routinely display the code on a
large-screen projector system; other times I would write code on the
whiteboard.  I would also ask them to include the code in their problem

At the start of the term they were surprised to learn that we could do
anything without a GUI.  By the end of the term they were excited about
the easy flexibility of just writing code.

I believe the learning curve is steeper for writing commands.  But the
view from the summit is far grander.  My students seemed to agree.


On Mon, 16 Oct 2006 wrote:

> Can SPSS be used entirely from a command-line interface?  If so, it would
> be interesting to see your students' reactions if you allowed SPSS, but
> only via command-line--no mouse-clicking.  In other words, required them
> to submit the SPSS equivalent of do-files.  This would be a way of
> separating their love of SPSS (of which I am skeptical) from their love of
> pretty mouse-driven GUIs (which I am hypothesizing is more the issue.)
> --Chris
> > On 10/15/06, Richard Williams <> wrote:
> >> However, I suspect that isn't the kind of thing your students were
> >> complaining about!  Who are these people, what is the field of study,
> >> what sorts of things are they going to need to do in their future
> >> careers?
> >
> > These are graduate students majoring in Nutrition or Epidemiology.
> > They are being trained primarily for academic research. They are going
> > to be expected to perform simple statistical analyses (t-test, etc.)
> > and data manipulation.
> >
> > Raphael
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