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re: st: advice on using Stata in an undergraduate Intro Stats course

From   Christopher Baum <>
To   "" <>
Subject   re: st: advice on using Stata in an undergraduate Intro Stats course
Date   Fri, 1 Feb 2013 17:16:14 +0000

I am posting this response on behalf of Dr Mark Kazarosian, who has been running our new Stata-based lab sections in the Statistics course required of all economics majors (currently enrolling about 150-180 students per semester). This is a fourth-hour, graded component of the course, which is a three-hour lecture course, with most students enrolled in a single large lecture section.

Hi Kit,

Here are a few comments for Douglas Hess:

> Some questions for those with teaching experience:
> 1) Have you found--or do you believe that--it is useful to have
> students learn a bit of Stata for this sort of course? (The college
> has a campus license.)

Yes, I think it is a great idea.

We just last semester began teaching a Stata/data analysis lab (which I teach) at BC to accompany our intro stats class.

We don't yet have evidence that it is useful, but we hope and believe that it will be useful.

I am teaching the labs.  I think the trick to keeping them interested is to emphasize the importance of learning how to build a bridge from theory to reality.  My students are all econ majors, so I also emphasize that learning Stata is a necessary (second) bridge they are building toward learning econometrics more effectively. 

I motivate this early and often by explaining that learning data analysis will not only help them to understand theory, but also help them in the job market.  I remind them of the huge # of economics (and other) majors graduating every year that only know theory, but have no experience with data.

In addition to problem sets using Stata, I assign a short research paper (7-9 pages max) to allow them opportunity to get first hand experience of using statistics to investigate the answer to an interesting question of their choice.

Learning Stata (or any program) is scary to them, so I remind them that they don't need to learn it all--only the basics, and how to read and understand the help resources.

> 2) Are there textbooks (or on-line books/websites) that use Stata for
> a beginners intro to statistics (and/or probability)? I.e., not just
> intro to Stata, but intro to Stata for learning stats from the
> starting square? (The difference between two such books/websites could
> be the order in which material is introduced, the complexity of the
> problems or examples, assumptions of previous knowledge, etc.)

Lots of books that you may find useful that use Stata--see the Stata bookstore.

Here are a few:

Data Analysis Using Stata, Third Edition
Ulrich Kohler and Frauke Kreuter

Using Stata for Quantitative Analysis
Kyle C. Longest

Statistics with Stata: Version 12, Eighth Edition
Lawrence C. Hamilton

A Handbook of Statistical Analyses Using Stata, Fourth Edition
Sophia Rabe-Hesketh and Brian Everitt
Also, here are a couple books that don't use Stata, yet you may find useful to get the students interested:

"Teaching Statistics, a bag of tricks" (Gelman, and Nolan)

"Damned Lies and Statistics" (Joel Best)

Also, there are zillions of websites to learn Stata--one of my favorites for the students is: 

Also, I encourage the students to just google Stata questions and very often they get good help.

Of course teaching them how to navigate through Stata help is a huge payoff.  

Also, have them read Stata Language Syntax as one of the first things that they do.

> 3) Anybody care to share syllabi for this sort of course (using Stata,
> or not)? [Please respond off line by emailing me directly if you want
> to send a file, of course.]

The syllabus for the lab section is available from

Kit Baum   |   Boston College Economics & DIW Berlin   |
                             An Introduction to Stata Programming  |
  An Introduction to Modern Econometrics Using Stata  |

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