Embedding case studies into statistical teaching to enhance quantitative skills of biomedicine students

Mary Familari, Kristine Elliott, Ray Watson, Kelly E Matthews

Abstract


Students often find it difficult to appreciate the relevance of statistical analysis and the role of quantitative skills (QS) to their future profession in the health sciences. Recent studies have pointed to the use of interdisciplinary or context-based approaches to bring relevance to the role of statistics and mathematics in the life sciences. We speculated that the choice of case studies that cater to the interests of biology students undertaking introductory statistics subjects may improve the relevance of QS to them. This paper reports a strategy we used to teach statistical concepts and building QS of biomedicine students by linking the teaching of biology and statistics using interdisciplinary case studies. We asked, would the use of authentic case studies drawn from influential health science discoveries lead to an improved perception of the relevance of QS? Students’ perceptions of the initiative were determined through the use of a questionnaire asking students to provide their opinions about the relevancy and importance of studying QS. We found pre and post survey students held negative views about mathematics and statistics, and although students’ comments indicate the use of real-life case studies kept the lessons in statistics interesting, they did not think statistical analysis was important to them or their careers.

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