A Course in Biology and Communication Skills for Master of Biostatistics Students

Jesse D Troy, Josh Granek, Gregory P Samsa, Gina-Maria Pomann, Sharon Updike, Steven C Grambow, Megan L Neely


We describe an innovative, semester-long course in biology and communication skills for master’s degree students in biostatistics. The primary goal of the course is to make the connection between biological science and statistics more explicit. The secondary goals are to teach oral and written communication skills in an appropriate context for applied biostatisticians, and to teach a structured approach to thinking that enables students to become lifelong learners in biology, study design, and the application of statistics to biomedical research. Critical evaluation of medical literature is the method used to teach biology and communication. Exercises are constructivist in nature, designed to be hands-on and encourage reflection through writing and oral communication. A single disease area (cancer) provides a motivating example to: 1) introduce students to the most commonly used study designs in medical and public health research, 2) illustrate how study design is used to address questions about human biology and disease, 3) teach basic biological concepts necessary for a successful career in biostatistics, and 4) train students to read and critically evaluate publications in peer-reviewed journals. We describe the design and features of the course, the intended audience, and provide detailed examples for instructors interested in designing similar courses.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jct.v11n4p120


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Copyright (c) 2022 Jesse D Troy, Josh Granek, Gregory P Samsa, Gina-Maria Pomann, Sharon Updike, Steven C Grambow, Megan L Neely

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