Creating average score scales in R

As a Fellow for the Program for Advanced Research in the Social Sciences, I have the opportunity to teach students, faculty, and staff at Duke how to develop research designs, chooose quantitative methods, and implement those methods with statistical software. Recently, a student asked me for help in calculating average score scales from multiple survey items. Since this provided a good opportunity to teach the student that there are multiple approaches to any programming problem and that each approach faces different trade-offs in terms of computational cost, verbosity, generality, and the opportunity for making mistakes, I put together a short gist I thought I’d share.

Common Student Mistakes in Academic Writing (and how to avoid them)

As a course instructor and teaching assistant, I aspire to not only help students master course concepts and tools, but more generally train my students to become critical thinkers capable of clearly and effectively articulating well-reasoned and empirically-supported arguments regarding scientific matters. In particular, I commonly aim to impart students with a clear idea of how to develop an argument, translate that argument into a journal-style document, and potentially port that document to other forms of communication, such as op-eds, presentations, or blog posts.