Owain 2013

Melbourne Stats Course

So the course runs over 4-5 months.

It consists of two parts; 1. Evidence based medicine, 2. Research methods. These are taught simultaneously.

There are two mandatory 2-day seminars in the Royal Alfred, Melbourne. One pair at the start of the course and the second pair at about half way. These cover material that is repeated later on in the course, as well as going over some of the more complicated areas. Additionally there are workshops and group discussions for both courses. There are three papers to read before you attend both block days, which can be located on the website the week before. These are then used in one of the critical appraisal work shops.

Every week there is an assignment for both which usually involves reading 3-4 papers then answering a few questions which draw from the assigned reading. You post the answers in an online forum which is accessible by your group (5-8 students) and the teachers. Usually takes about 8-10hr work per week. (Does vary).

You are encouraged to critique (not criticise) each other’s answers and start discussion around points raised in the questions. You generally score better if you post early in the week, bring up a novel or interesting point or generate a good discussion. There tends to be a bit of repetition as everyone says the same sort of stuff. The questions are designed to draw from individual experiences and opinions to try and create some diversity between answers.

The teachers generally don’t comment on the posts unless there has been some global misunderstanding (commonly regarding statistics) or someone says something that is wrong and detrimental to learning or misleading. Generally they say if you hear nothing then you are doing well.

On top of this there is a midway project for both topics, which takes about 3-4 good days work (each) to complete. Additionally there is a final project due by the closing date of the course, which takes about the same amount of effort. The research methods one also involves a presentation at the second block teaching days. This is a 3 slide (elevator pitch) type presentation but actually involves a bit of work too.

Always happy to answer questions if people want more info – Owain 2013.

I think this is a brilliant course as it has been specifically written by Emergency Physicians to allow you to complete your 4:10. All the examples are from the Emergency Medicine literature, so you are critiquing journal articles that provide useful everyday knowledge, and there are no difficult statistics involved

Laura Joyce 2014
Rachel Luckie Dec 2013

"Statistics in Health Science" - POPLHLTH 706

This required 5 full contact days in Auckland (not offered as distance), with 50% internal assessment and then a 2 hour exam at the end. Very practical skills based, using a statistical software programme. Took 10 hours of my own time per week in between lectures in doing the assignments. Valuable in that it would save you from needing a statistician, as you would know which statistical tests etc to do and how to produce the right information using the software. I needed to purchase the software so I could do the assignments, about $100AUD.

Semester 2 I did POPHLTH 701 "Research Methods in Health" which is offered either distance or in person. The distance stream required 1 contact day in Auckland, then about 6 teleconference sessions on a Tuesday night, fortnightly. We were provided with a lot of reading material to prepare for these, and power point slides. These were enjoyable enough. This course was 100% internally assessed with 4 small tasks each worth 5%, then two larger assignments worth 20% and 50% respectively, the last being an ethics proposal to the standard of the National Ethics committee (using their 50+ page proforma). The remaining 5% was for participating in an online discussion forum. This course was about research methodology, and again very practical. This was also a minimum 10 hours per week.

Ash 2014

University of Queensland EBM and Biostats

Evidence based health care and Introduction to biostatistics. Other 2 options are Epidemiology and Qualitative research. Only certain combinations are allowed by the college ( all the details are in the handbook).

Cost is $AUD 1940.00 per subject for Australian Permanent residents, not sure if the same applies for New Zealand residents.

The EBM course has one Big assignment at the end and which accounts for 60% of the final mark and the other 40% is made up of weekly questions that have to be answered online (blackboard Site).

There is a text book in which each chapter co relates with the weekly topic. there is also a weekly lecture that is posted online and can be downloaded and listened to alongside the slides. There is an online discussion board for questions and comments. Its all quite interactive, plenty of support from the lecturer and really convenient because its totally external! Recommendation is for 10 hours work per week but I think realistically 6 hours is enough with a few more hours in the the last 3 weeks when the big assignment is due.

For the biostats course there are weekly lectures + slides that can be downloaded, a free handbook to compliment the lectures. you have to download a stats programme ( R commander) onto your computer and there are weekly exercises to do based on the lecture content for the week. These are not marked but to be done in your own time. Assessment is based on 4 assignments - 3 account for 20% each and the other for 40%. The 3 smaller assignments are online MCQ's and simple calculations to be done on the stats programme. The bigger assignment involves a bit more work. Again probably 4-5 hours of work per week and then an extra 4 hours ( over 3 weeks ) for smaller assignments and maybe an extra 10-12 ( over 3 weeks) hours total for the large assignment. Again there is an online discussion board, lots of online resources, recommended reading which is all useful.

If anyone is interested in doing these we are more than happy to chat to them directly and give them more information. We have found them very convenient and also useful in terms of reading papers and interpreting them. I hope this information helps.