NUS: Computational Reasoning with Microsoft Excel

Learn how to critically evaluate solutions and make well-informed decisions based on data by merging Microsoft Excel skills with philosophical critical reasoning. No prior experience with Microsoft Excel required.

8 weeks
3–5 hours per week
Self-paced
Free

There is one session available:

After a course session ends, it will be archivedOpens in a new tab.
Starts Dec 8

Through a series of fun and engaging hands-on activities in Microsoft Excel, this module aims to equip the learner with the ability to thoughtfully apply computational tools when solving complex real-world problems. This module aims to impart to the learner fundamental skills in Microsoft Excel for dealing with large amounts of data, and the ability to critically self-evaluate the way they apply these skills. They will learn to identify problems and design solutions, while also developing a critical awareness of the merits and limits of their methods, thereby empowering them to make better-informed decisions and to reason effectively in a variety of contexts.

At a glance

• Language: English
• Video Transcript: English
• Associated skills: Critical Thinking, Microsoft Excel, Computational Tools

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
• Become familiar with the process of computational problem-solving
• Simplify and analyse complex problems and identify possible solutions.
• Communicate effectively with others who engage in similar ways of problem-solving.
• Use Microsoft Excel to form persuasive arguments and prescriptions

• Basic data preparation with useful formulae

• Visualise data with Pivot tables

• Automate processes using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) coding

Syllabus

Skip Syllabus

Lesson 1: Introduction to Computational Reasoning

• Understand the computational problem-solving process, and able to clearly define objectives to solve problems.
• Understand the obstacles that make it difficult to develop good computational solutions

Lesson 2: What’s Going On and Why? Understanding the Situation and Identifying Problems Using Data Analysis

• Effectively use the various tools of Microsoft Excel to analyse data.
• Identify patterns or breaks in patterns to better understand and describe what is going on in the dataset, and to identify possible causes to problems.
• Distinguish between direct and proxy measures, with the awareness of the problems inherent in using proxy measures.

Lesson 3: How to Effectively Reason with Data

• Identify assumptions underlying proxy measures and evaluate the strength of these assumptions.
• Formulate clear and unambiguous hypotheses based on data and evaluate the strengths of these hypotheses.

Lesson 4: Anyone Can Model: The Fundamentals of Modelling

• Read and comprehend conditionals and nested conditionals in order to organise and sort data on a large scale
• Create accurate classification models based on the processes of pattern recognition and abstraction.
• Appreciate the difficulties in developing abstract models, and identify shortcomings of such models.

Lesson 5: Social Network Analysis: What’s Going on in the Neighbourhood?

• Develop a firm understanding of the concepts of loops and nested loops
• Develop a nuanced understanding of the notion of “importance” in a social network through the concepts of degree centrality and betweenness centrality.

Lesson 6: Greedy Methods: How to Solve Problems in a Fast and Systematic Manner

• Articulate Greedy Rules when attempting to solve problems via the optimisation-approach.
• Evaluate different Greedy Rules to prescribe effective solutions

Lesson 7: A Fun Introduction to Coding with VBA

• Basic knowledge of VBA to automatically navigate around a spreadsheet and manipulate cells and data.
• Apply conditionals in VBA to process rows of information and generate output.
• Competently debug errors in VBA.

Lesson 8: Let’s Up Our VBA Game!

• Apply loops in VBA to process rows of information and generate output.
• Formulate precise conditionals through the exercise of pattern recognition to solve more complex problems.

I find data analysis and coding very daunting as I know nothing about it. Is this course for me?
Yes! This course is designed with the assumption that the learner has no experience in data analysis, coding, or Microsoft Excel.
Through our fun and engaging activities, we will equip you with the foundational concepts essential to learning these well, and ultimately, empower you to feel confident to take your learning further on your own!

I already know data analysis and/or coding. What value is there in taking this course?
This course is more than an introductory course to data analysis/coding. We aim to impart the learner with the critical thinking skills essential to data analysis and algorithm design, by broadening your perspective on wider social-ethical issues that are at play when we analyse data or design algorithmic solutions.

I don’t have a copy of Microsoft Excel. Can I use Google Docs or some other Office suite?
Yes, you can use Google Docs or some other Office suite for the data analytics portion of the course. But do note that the demonstration in the lecture videos may differ from what you’ll have to do.
Nonetheless, because Microsoft Excel is still used in many organisations, it would be good to at least try your hand on it to be familiar. You can download and install a trial version of Microsoft Office 365 and use it for a month. https://www.microsoft.com/en/microsoft-365/try

I do not have the latest version of Microsoft Office. Will this be a problem?
No, it will not be a problem. You can still access most of the features taught in this course. Some of the processes may differ slightly because of changes in the user interface. Nonetheless, you can certainly complete this course.