SAS vs SPSS for Teaching Multivariate Analysis in Social Sciences

I have to choose between either SAS or SPSS for a new course in multivariate statistics. You can take it up with the university if you like, but  these are my only two options, in part because the course is starting soon.

I need to decide in a few days which way to go. Here are my very idiosyncratic reasons for one versus the other:

  • SPSS
  • There is a really good textbook on multivariate statistics that I think would be perfect for these students and it uses SPSS. The book is Advanced and Multivariate Statistics by Mertler & Vannatta, in case you were wondering.
  • SPSS can be installed pretty easily on the desktop and these are pretty non-technical students, so that’s a plus.
  • The point and click interface for SPSS is pretty easy and similar to Excel which most people have used.
  • Personally, I haven’t used SPSS in a while so it would be nice to use something different.

SAS

  • Students can just register and go to the website to use SAS Studio
  • Structural equation modeling and other advanced statistics procedures built in and not on add-on
  • SAS Studio is free vs $80 or so for students and $260 for professor (i.e., me) to buy SPSS academic versions including add-ons needed
  • I’m more familiar with SAS and find it easier to code than SPSS syntax.

I’ve toyed with the idea of showing both options but that uses up class time better spent on teaching, for example, how do you interpret a factor loading or AIC.

My big objection to SAS is I can’t find a recent textbook that is good for a multivariate analysis course that is in a social sciences department. The best one is by Cody and that is from 2005. I also use a couple of chapters from the Hosmer & Lemeshow book on Applied Logistic Regression , but I need something that covers factor analysis, repeated measures ANOVA and hopefully, MANOVA and discriminant function analysis, too.

I think most of these students have careers in non-profits and they are not going to be creating new APIs to analyze tweets or anything using enormous databases, so the ability to analyze terabytes is moot. This will probably be their second course in statistics and maybe their first introduction to statistical software.

Suggestions are more than welcome.

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P. S. You can skip the hateful comments on why SAS and SPSS both suck and I should be using R, Python or whatever your favorite thing is. Universities don’t usually give carte blanche. These are my two choices.

P.P.S. You can also skip the snarky comments on how doctoral students should have a lot more statistics courses, all take at least a year of Calculus, etc. Even if I might agree with you, they don’t and I need tools that work for the students in my classes, not some hypothetical ideal student.

local_offerevent_note April 26, 2017

account_box AnnMaria De Mars

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