Teaching ggplot2

titleslide_ggplot2Last week I gave a short presentation to a math class on advanced graphing in R with ggplot2. Click here to view the updated presentation: http://goo.gl/QNQjuV

I think the session went well overall. The students are masters and PhD candidates who are interested in learning more statistics and applied math. Their course textbook uses R for basic graphing and the professor thought it would be nice to introduce more advanced graphing. While I don’t know much about multilinear models, I do know a thing or two about advanced graphing in R.

One hitch: I’ve never taught R or ggplot2 before. I use it in my work at the library, but teaching it is a whole other animal. I spent a week pondering the best way to show how ggplot2 is superior to base graphics. Other constraints included time (50 minute class) and students bringing their own installations. Ultimately, I decided the best way is to show comparisons and then allow time for them to try it for themselves.

Post-session things I learned, including feedback received:

  1. Prepare a structured exercise. I let them loose and they needed more direction so the updated presentation has a couple slides.
  2. Post the slides ahead of time. This was actually not very easy to do since WP doesn’t host HTML files and Dropbox makes you download the file…
  3. Presentation only took about 20 minutes. So for future presentations, I threw in a couple more slides after the Exercise slide about even more advanced graphing.

This presentation would probably fit pretty well in a lunchtime tech series, much like Eccles Express from a few years ago. I can see making a series of short presentations around using R. Maybe a breakdown like this?

  1. Setting Up to Learn R
  2. Basics of Using R (this one might need to be split into two parts)
  3. Basic Graphing in R
  4. Advanced Graphing in R
  5. Writing in R Markdown
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