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Providing Consulting Experiences Through Role Playing in a Graduate Statistics Course

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An effective method for improving the communication skills of graduate students in statistics and biostatistics is to provide consultations with non‐statistical researchers. Unfortunately, those experiences can be difficult to arrange or occur too infrequently to be reliable. The current study sought to help students develop both written and oral communication skills within an existing graduate biostatistics course by having students partake in role‐playing consultations. Though the class size was small, the students felt these activities helped improve their oral and written communication skills, and made them more aware of a biostatistician's role in consulting. There was also modest improvement in the students perceived function as a consulting biostatistician. Simulated consultations can be an effective educational tool for promoting the development of soft skills necessary for developing successful statisticians, can be implemented in existing courses, and do not require reliance upon external collaborators. Embedding these types of exercises within an existing curriculum can also be a cost‐effective alternative for programs that do not have formal consulting training. This article focuses on how to assess student communication using a role‐playing based approach to provide statistical consulting experiences in the classroom.
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Keywords: active learning; applied statistics; categorical data; generalised linear models; graduate training; simulated consultation; statistical education

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2016

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