What to expect from the infamous Biostatistics 1 course

Introduction

Biostatistics is the kind of course people often strongly like or dislike. However, majoring in Public Health, Biostatistics is a fundamental part of our program and future career.

Biostatistics was a course I felt stressed for as I did not know how hard it would be or if I would be behind. Before coming to Karolinska, I had only taken one biostatistics course. However, after talking to my classmates everyone had varying experiences with statistics. Some people had taken many courses and some had never taken one before. So do not worry, you can get through it and I hope this review helps you prepare a bit more. 

Leadership 

Throughout the course, we had one main course leader- Nicola Orsini, Associate Professor of Medical Statistics. He facilitated the course and we would contact him if we had any questions. He led some of the lectures, but the majority of our lectures throughout the 5 weeks were from various guest lecturers. We had two teaching assistants who led our vary coding labs in the afternoons. 

Course Structure

The course was broken down into 5 themes corresponding to each week: 

  1. The empirical distribution of data 
  2. Theoretical probability distributions 
  3. Statistical inference on one population
  4. Statistical inference on two or more populations 
  5. Correlation and tables for epidemiologists

Time Structure 

We had lecture Monday-Thursday, 9:00-12:00 and computer labs for our STATA coding program 13:00-18:00. Every Friday we did not have a lecture and this was our time to do individual reading, preparation and complete our weekly quiz. 

A creenshot of course schedule
Example of our schedule

Assignments 

Throughout the course, we had various mandatory assignments, including weekly quizzes, a weekly reflection presentation and an individual assignment. Our main assignments were: 

Assignment #1: Group Weekly Review Presentation – we divided into groups and at the end of each week your group was to review the material from that week and present the summary to the class. Each group member was responsible for presenting 5 min.

Assignment #2: Individual STATA Assignment 

This was our main assignment throughout the course and was designed to assess our skills using our coding program STATA. It consisted of 5 questions that could all be answered in the coding program using the commands we had learned throughout the course. 

Exam  

We concluded the course with a final exam.

Studying: We were responsible to study all the material from lectures and the corresponding readings. He gave us the formula sheet that we would get on the exam ahead of time so we knew what to expect and what formulas we needed to know. Additionally, on CANVAS he uploaded a previous exam which gave us an idea of the types of questions.

Grading: Before the exam, we went over the exam format and expectations. Additionally, he clarified how we could get full marks or part marks. 

Logistics: The exam itself was 3 hours and was a mixture of short answer and multiple choice. We were given the same formula sheet and we were allowed a calculator. Once you finished, you handed in your booklet.

Course Grading

Here is a picture that shows the breakdown of our marks

a breakdown of the marks from Canvas
Marks breakdown

Pros/Cons

In my opinion, the main pro of this course was that we had the opportunity to gain some experience coding which will be a very employable skill in the future. My main personal con was that we simultaneously were learning the statistics and the coding program which made it challenging for me to fully grasp and excel in either topic.

Overall, do not stress, you can do it and you will find a learning style that works for you!

Thanks for reading and contact me if you have any questions!

Lauren

lauren.elizabeth.wiebe@stud.ki.se

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