RSS sections and groups meeting reports

Medical section meeting: Where next for statistics teaching?

Written by Mike Campbell on . Posted in Sections and local group meeting reports

In May 2013 the Medical Section of the Royal Statistical Society held a joint meeting with the Association of Statistic Lecturers in Universities (ASLU) - as previewed here. The day started with Nasrollah Saebi (Kingston University) who gave a brief history of the ASLU which has been going since 1983. He described the Glasgow STARS (Statistical Resources from Real Datasets) and ARTIST (Assessment Resources Tools for Improving Statistical Thinking) websites which may assist in improving teaching.

Kevin McConway (Open University) then looked at the future of academic statistics in the UK. He described a survey he had done at the behest of the RSS and as part of his role as academic liaison officer. He looked at numbers of statisticians and funding from various sources and came to the conclusion that the situation was not as bad as some people made it out to be, in that funding had not decreased in recent years and may have increased.

Roger Porkess (Advisory Committee for Mathematics Education) spoke on the future of statistics in schools and colleges. He commented that one of the problems was that even able students found it difficult to transfer their skills to different problems when they come across statistics in other areas post GCSE.

Gill Lancaster (Lancaster University) described the future of postgraduate taught courses in universities. She described the situation in Lancaster and the wide variety of courses they give. She highlighted a useful website from Michael Fiendly for visualising data:

The afternoon was devoted to teaching medical statistics, with the first session given by Gill Price (University of East Anglia) on what medical statistics doctors think they need to know. She described a survey of doctors at UEA. In general, they wanted more on statistics in evidence-based medicine.

This was followed by Annie Herbert (University College London) who described a survey of medical and dental schools as to what is taught and how much. This is very much the area of the annual conference of medical statisticians in the UK known as Burwalls.

This was followed by Jenny Freeman (University of Sheffield) who described what doctors and medical students want to know. She described a survey of 77 research registrars who came to a research training course in Sheffield. No less than three quarters of respondents felt they could work better if they had a knowledge of statistics. One suggestion was to have a objective structured clinical examination for statistics. This type of exam is traditionally used when students are observed examining or treating a patient. For statistics perhaps the student could be explaining a risk to a patient.

The group divided into two for discussion. One group discussed new technologies and methodology related to teaching. The other discussed clinical reasoning and felt that Getstats could do more in relation to promoting statistical understanding in medicine.

Education Health & Medicine Medical section

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