Teaching biostatistics and epidemiology in the veterinary curriculum: what do our fellow lecturers expect?
Zeimet, R.; Kreienbrock, L.; Doherr, M.G.
Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 42(1): 53-65
ISSN/ISBN: 0748-321X PMID: 25572336 DOI: 10.3138/jvme.0314-029r2
Given veterinary students' varying mathematical knowledge and interest in statistics, teaching statistical concepts to them is often seen as a challenge. Consequently, there is an ongoing debate among lecturers about the best time to introduce the material into the curriculum, and the best thematic content and conceptual approach to teaching in basic biostatistics classes. During a workshop meeting of epidemiology and biostatistics lecturers of Austrian, German, and Swiss veterinary schools, the question was raised as to whether the topics taught in epidemiology and statistics classes are of sufficient relevance to our lecturing colleagues in other fields of veterinary education (i.e., whether our colleagues have certain expectations as to what the students should know about biostatistics before taking their classes). In 2012, an online survey was compiled and carried out at all eight German-speaking veterinary schools to address this issue. There were 266 respondents out of approximately 800 contacted lecturers from all schools and disciplines. Almost 50% responded that the basic biostatistics class should be taught early on (in the second or third year), while only 26% indicated that basic epidemiology should commence before the third year of the veterinary curriculum. There were clear differences in perceived relevance of the 44 epidemiological and biostatistical topics presented in the survey, assessed on a Likert scale from 0 (no relevance) to 4 (very high relevance). The results provide important information about how to revise the content of epidemiology and biostatistics classes, and the approach could also be used for other courses within the veterinary curriculum with a natural science focus.