Recap of Semester 1: Basic Statistics and Computer Based Analysis

Biostatistics is a core component of the epidemiology track of the Public Health Sciences program. Around two weeks ago, we finished our second class in this subject, so it’s high time I documented the first course, which took place during the first semester. For Andrea’s take on these two courses, please click here. The word that struck me in her post is creativity. What makes epidemiology exciting to me is the creative process of coming up with and answering interesting questions about health. As she wrote, statistics is the tool that we use to answer these questions.CAM00562Because the students in our program have such diverse educational histories, the first goal of this course was to bring all of the students in our program to the same level of knowledge. Thus, each person’s experience of the first part of the course was inextricably tied to his or her background in statistics. By the second half of the course, though, we were all engaging with new material. Having already completed the second course in biostatistics, I can say that it was very helpful that the final component of the first course was previewing regression models, which were covered in depth in the second course.

I greatly admire the philosophy behind the way that this course was taught, which was to teach statistics in a straightforward way and transform it into an accessible tool for our current and future research. As in other courses taught at KI, the emphasis was on understanding the concepts thoroughly. This principle has contrasted with educational experiences I’ve had in the past, in which much of my coursework covered a vast amount of material in a superficial way. One specific way in which the course director helped us was to organize weekly assessments in order to gauge our understanding of the material. He also emphasized attendance, which was very highly correlated with performance on the final exam.

Overall, this course in statistics provided a pivotal foundation for the courses that followed. Stay tuned this month for a post on our second biostatistics course!

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