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More explanation of functions? [episode 1 or 2] #392

mellertd opened this Issue Aug 31, 2018 · 2 comments


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mellertd commented Aug 31, 2018

Reading through 1. Analyzing Patient Data and it seems like functions are kind of glossed over (there are hyperlinks to explanations), whereas variables get a lot of explanation with diagrams. It seems a little uneven, particularly since functions are passed to another function as arguments later in the lesson (where apply is discussed). Are learners experiencing any problems with the function concept?

Regardless, I think it might be a good idea to add a learning objective. Something like "Learn how to use functions to perform operations on data".


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katrinleinweber commented Sep 1, 2018

Hello @mellertd and thanks for raising this topics :-)

I had considered your suggested learning objective as general to the entire lesson or even to the Carpentries. I'd be happy to review a PR with a specific wording suggestion. "Operations" could for example be confusing functions and operators. Also, "built-in functions" could be useful to distinguish those in 1. from the more specific objectives in 2. Creating Functions ;-)

Are learners experiencing any problems with the function concept?

I haven't heard such a question from learners, but I also have taught far less often than @diyadas or others.



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diyadas commented Sep 1, 2018


I had not noticed particular difficulties with functions. If anything, I'd prefer a PR on episode 2, creating functions - it would indeed be a good way to reinforce episode 1. Something along the lines of

In episode 1, we learned about several of R's built-in functions, which can be applied to variables to perform distinct operations. What if you wanted to perform an operation (or several) for which R doesn't yet have a function? You can write your own functions in R. In this lesson, we'll learn how to write a function so that we can repeat several operations with a single command. This will be useful later for repeating our analysis of inflammation data on all 12 files.

would be a better opening paragraph than the current one. Wording could be improved :) The file to edit for this PR is located in the _episodes_rmd directory.

@diyadas diyadas changed the title from More explanation of functions? to More explanation of functions? [episode 1 or 2] Nov 16, 2018

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