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Can biostatistics be fun or at least somewhat interesting?

Helen Spafford Jacob
School of Animal Biology, The University of Western Australia
Agriculture students at the University of Western Australia are required to take at least one semester of biometrics in their degree course. Very few of these students are innately interested in statistics and most do not understand the relevance of the unit to their educational or professional careers. One of the principal challenges in teaching this unit has been to motivate students and stimulate their interest. Last year a new approach was trialled in an introductory biostatistics unit to increase student involvement in the unit. The students were presented an introductory lecture on categorical data analysis and then as a group developed a survey to address a simple question asked by the teacher. The students conducted the survey and then analysed the results using the tools presented. As a follow up exercise the students discussed the flaws in the survey, how they might design better questions and confounding or additional variables that might be influencing the results. Student feedback from this exercise is positive. Potential revisions to the exercise will be discussed and possibilities for intercurriculum assignments presented.
Please cite as: Jacob, H. S. (2003). Can biostatistics be fun or at least somewhat interesting? In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/jacob-abs.html

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Last revision: 15 Jan 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/jacob-abs.html