Redesign of a First-Year Theory Course Sequence in Biostatistics

Jesse D Troy, Kara McCormack, Steven C Grambow, Gina-Maria Pomann, Gregory P Samsa


This communication describes the process and results of a curriculum review of a first-year sequence of courses in statistical inference within a Master of Biostatistics program. Our primary aim was to develop an innovative course in statistical theory that meets the needs of a diverse student audience, the majority of whom are seeking a terminal master’s degree while a minority will pursue PhD training in biostatistics. The main results were (1) different course paths for job-bound and PhD-bound students; and (2) the development of an innovative first course in statistical inference, which is a computationally-aided self-discovery of a salient (albeit not comprehensive) set of key concepts and techniques pertaining to statistical inference. The redesign process addressed a key conceptual barrier: namely, the unexamined assumption that deductive proofs are a necessary condition for rigorous presentation. Consistent with the principles of constructivism, we navigated this barrier by redefining the task to which pedagogic rigor should be applied: namely, to help students to develop a sound mental map of statistical inference. We believe that the approach we used to accomplish this redefined task could be generalized to additional aspects of statistical education, among others.

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Copyright (c) 2022 Jesse D Troy, Kara McCormack, Steven C Grambow, Gina-Maria Pomann, Gregory P Samsa

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Journal of Curriculum and Teaching ISSN 1927-2677 (Print) ISSN 1927-2685 (Online)  Email:

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