I am slated to teach a class in intro stats to psych majors this upcoming semester, and I would like some software to use consistently throughout the course. I refuse to use commercial software; having myself been trained extensively in SAS only to find it unavailable due to my current job, I don't want to create that situation for my students. In short, I'd like to give them something they can keep using as long as they want to use it.

I'd use R, if they were science students (more comfortable with computing/etc.) or stats majors, but these people are from psychology. So I need something easy to install, and which can be made easy (easier) to use. Don't get me wrong, I have used R in intro work before, but it was not smooth.

I would consider R with a front end. Is R-commander better than it used to be a couple years ago?

I have already rejected PSPP, as it has no graphics (right?), and Statistical Lab (Statistiklabor) as, well,

**I**am having trouble getting that working well. It also lacks the needed detailed support in English that my students might require.

Any other ideas? Any users of OpenEpi or Gretl? Would these work for general stats?

Ideally I'd like the following: some tools for simple non-parametrics, resampling (wishful thinking?), the usual suspects in normal theory statistics with both 1 and 2 way ANOVA, Fisher's exact test (wishful thinking again?), lots of good graphics, relatively easy data transformations, and the ability to do simple simulations (this may have to be done elsewhere than the main package). Obviously I'd like it to be Free (beer) and/or free (libre) and/or open source. But I'll settle for anything the students can get for 0.00 USD legally and give to there friends.

I realize that what I want is simplified-R. Any ideas? Thanks in advance for any leads you can give me.

X-post-to:

**statisticians**.

bast_veiledJuly 24 2010, 02:12:40 UTC 6 years ago

allogenesJuly 24 2010, 18:17:40 UTC 6 years ago

By the way, PSPP is an open source version of the older SPSS (now apparently renamed PASW for some reason). People who like SPSS and want a free/open version should try it out. It does not currently do the most advanced stuff, but it does cover basics pretty well (except graphics, but someone else told me I am wrong about that).

The problem is that I work with psychological researchers a lot and their needs have expanded beyond what SPSS does easily. Plus I find SPSS/PASW and Stata encourage bad process when it comes to statistics. They encourage students to start with a specific test rather than starting with the data more organically. I am trying to remake the intro stats course for psych in away that gets free of that. I admit I am way out of the mainstream on this. :-)

Thanks for the comment!

tig_bJuly 24 2010, 08:46:39 UTC 6 years ago

As a government statistician I generally find economic stats people tend to use SAS and social stats people use SPSS.

allogenesJuly 24 2010, 18:22:35 UTC 6 years ago

SAS is not an option at the price point they set, unfortunately. Most of my economist friends use Stata and R these days, but I used to know some SAS experts in econ back in grad school. :-) All of these are, unfortunately, commercial.

Like I said to

bast_veiledabove, I have to go open-source/libre/free this time for a variety of reasons, some sound from a teaching standpoint some due to costs, etc. Plus I find commercial software immoral in this context.Thanks!

## PSPP graphics

Anonymous

July 24 2010, 10:41:15 UTC 6 years ago

## Re: PSPP graphics

allogenesJuly 24 2010, 18:10:09 UTC 6 years ago

## Re: PSPP graphics

allogenesJuly 24 2010, 18:18:42 UTC 6 years ago

anyeeJuly 25 2010, 00:44:38 UTC 6 years ago

You do your students a great disservice if, for personal reasons, you decide against teaching them to use something that is standard in many fields. While your experience is regrettable, you're in fact doing something similar to your students: their jobs will probably not let them install whatever stats package they want onto job-related machines. The job will probably use SPSS or SAS.

If you're really afraid of their being hindered by learning a software package they later can't be accessed, teach them how to do it by hand. Seriously.

allogenesJuly 25 2010, 19:51:51 UTC 6 years ago

SPSS/PASW is standard in the sense that English is often standard, it is in many cases a default. Standard sometimes implies a clear choice, sometimes it just implies history. I work with psychologists and neuroscientists every day, and have for well over 15 years. In that time SPSS has gone from being the only thing (well, excluding Stata and SAS) to a relatively minor player. I have also found most companies are realizing the savings in using R, and in the commercial world the only real contender is SAS, not SPSS or Stata. So the only real argument for SPSS is that the previous generation of psychologists are comfortable with it. And that is not really an argument at all.

You say it is a disservice to not use SPSS. I say that is wrong. I have used SPSS a lot, and taught with it often. I am not rejecting it for any personal reasons whatsoever. I am rejecting it for sound pedagogical reasons. I feel that the structure of its menus and the way it organizes data and limits analyses to certain styles leads students to a wrong-headed way of thinking about statistics. I am trying to break them of those bad habits before they get ingrained. SPSS forces a very unnatural and fixed style of data analysis.

At some point the people who know (those with statistical training) have to stand up to the people who don't know (psychologists with little training) and say "enough is enough." I crossed that line a few years ago, and have been having markedly increased success with my stats students since that time. In standardized testing, my students class average regularly comes out above the average for other classes taught by more traditional methods. Part of that is letting go of SPSS. Part of that has been moving away from the traditional psych stats course which is still 90%+ a 1950's style course. I suspect that part has been luck, too.

I say it is the greater disservice to use software just because granddad used it.

For what it is worth, the few students I have seen after my classes who have transitioned to SPSS have had little trouble, with the possible exception of asking why SPSS is so limited.

As for doing it by hand, I don't believe that is viable. Computers are not a short-cut nor are they calculators. Some forms of analysis completely depend on computation. To drop computers entirely from a first course means dropping all real-sized data sets, dropping randomization testing, dropping exact test results, dropping electronic reference tables, etc. Too much to give up. Computers are an integral part of research, not something to drop. For what it is worth, I have taught the purely "by hand" class, too, and that has always been a fiasco.

So I am afraid I have to disagree with you, but I hope you understand that I do so for good (pedagogical) reasons, not for any personal problems I may have. Though I have plenty! :-) Thank you for your thoughts on these matters, and I appreciate the input!