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ASA Teaching of Statistics in the Health Sciences

Session Slot: 2:00- 3:50 Tuesday

Estimated Audience Size: 100-200

AudioVisual Request: xxx

Session Title: Should We Only Teach Them What They Need To Know To Pass The Boards?

Theme Session: Yes/No

Applied Session: Yes

Session Organizer: Ackerson, Lynn Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program

Address: 3505 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611

Phone: 510-450-2386

Fax: 510-450-2071


Session Timing: 110 minutes total (Sorry about format):

Invited Session Opening Remarks by Chair - 5 or 0 minutes First Speaker - 30 minutes (or 25) Second Speaker - 30 minutes Third Speaker - 30 minutes Discussant - none Floor Discusion - 20 minutes

Session Chair: Ackerson, Lynn Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program

Address: 3505 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611

Phone: 510-450-2386

Fax: 510-450-2071


1. What They Test and Why

Dawson, Beth,   Southern Illinois University

Address: Dept. of Internal Medicine Southern Illinois University School of Medicine PO Box 19230 Springfield, IL 62794-9230

Phone: 217-524-2441

Fax: 217-524-8156


Abstract: ``It's on the boards'' - a thinly disguised threat many of us have used to motivate our students to learn and apply basic statistical concepts and critical appraisal skills. Yet, many of us who teach would be hard-pressed to say exactly what content is, indeed, ``on the boards.'' And, if we knew, would we agree that the concepts being tested are the important ones that physicians and other health professionals need to know? We might be interested in the criteria that certifying boards and testing agencies use to determine the topics they test.

This presentation focuses on two issues regarding the examinations written and administered by National Board of Medical Examiners and those examinations written and administered by several of the larger specialty certification boards in medicine. First will be a description of the content and concepts contained on the tests and the cognitive level at which they are tested. Second will be a summary of the procedures and resources medical specialty boards use to determine and validate the statistical content on their examinations.

2. The Use of Targeted Lectures and Small Groups For Teaching Statistics to Medical Students

Freeman, Daniel H.,   University of Texas Medical Branch

Address: Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston TX

Phone: 409 772-6616

Fax: 409 772-9127


Philips, Billy U., University of Texas Medical Branch

Hokanson, James A., University of Texas Medical Branch

Abstract: Statisticians, as with most professionals, teach medical students the material that statisticians believe to be useful in the practice of medicine. Standard texts cover descriptive statistics, probability, and inference. This and a brief introduction to epidemiology and critical appraisal of the medical literature constituted the second year course in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UTMB up until 1993. We were confronted with both declining student interest and declining test scores, when we began to restructure the course. A careful review of the guidelines for the USMLEs revealed that while these topics were covered, the emphasis needed to be changed. Specifically, we found a greater emphasis on test characteristics, basic survival analysis, graphics and study design than had been previously expected. In addition, we found the students wanted an opportunity to interact directly with the faculty. In response, the content of the lectures was revised to reflect a greater emphasis on clinical issues and a closer alignment to USMLE topics. We also began small groups sessions of 2 faculty and 12 students to review papers from the literature. We have not been able to document a specific improvement in test scores, but there has been a marked improvement in student satisfaction. As an unanticipated benefit, faculty have reported a general satisfaction with the program and an improvment in the non-clinical faculty's perception of the medical students.

3. 10,000 Monkeys Can Get a Perfect Score On the National Boards - Can You?

Murphy, James R.,   University of Colorado Health Sciences Center

Address: Dept. of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics Box B-119 4200 E. 9th Ave. Denver, Co 80262

Phone: 303-315-5170

Fax: 303-315-3183


Abstract: Teaching statistics to medical students has never been an enjoyable occupation. Periodically new ideas such as problem based learning, evidence based medicne, medical decision analysis, ROC analysis, etc. provide new techniques and motivating examples, but it continues to be difficult to interest students in the underlying statistical principles. At the same time, national reports such as Physicians for the Year 2000, indicate that clinicians need to understand these principles in order to deal with the exponential growth of medical research. As statisticians involved in this process, should we be teaching skills, attitude, process, zeitgeist, and/or the enjoyment of learning? The answer is easy - all of the above. How best to do this remains to be decided. This talk will cover some of my most and least successful interactions with medical students. I hope to provide some ideas about how to teach all things to all people in a way that is beneficial to teacher and student alike.

List of speakers who are nonmembers: None

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Next: ASA Program Chair Discretion Up: ASA Teaching of Statistics Previous: ASA Teaching of Statistics
David Scott