“Statistic of the Month”: A new, interactive and engaging way to tutor trainee surgeons in statistics

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Since 2007, the University of Edinburgh and
the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) of Edinburgh have
launched seven successful online Masters Programmes for
surgeons in training: two MSc programmes (content
aligned with the intercollegiate Membership of RCS
examination), and five ChM Programmes preparing for
Fellowship of the RCS examinations.
Summary of Work: While all other modules (e.g. anatomy,
physiology, pathology, etc.) are tutor‐led, with activity
graded discussion boards and a final examination,
teaching statistics has been in the form of an online‐
Helpdesk, or links to static resources. This academic year
(2016/2017) we introduced a new statistics module
called“Statistic of the Month”.
Summary of Results: The Statistic of the Month is a series
of web‐based interactive applications created using the R
statistical programming language. Students are given
already visualised sample data to interact with (e.g. they
can change the number of observations). For each
configuration, the application displays the p‐value (an
indicator of statistical significance).
Discussion: On the associated discussion board, the tutor
asked the students a series of thought provoking
questions about how certain parameters affected the
results. This level of experimentation gives the student a
more thorough understanding of statistical concepts, and
as such they are more likely to retain the information.
Conclusion: The voluntary uptake and impact of
introducing statistics into the already heavy‐workload of
surgeons differed greatly between the pilot releases. More
engagement was seen in the senior (ChM) versus the
junior (MSc) programme, possibly indicating the late
trainee stage realization of the necessity of statistical
understanding in a clinical career.
Take‐home Message: We are conscious that statistics as a
subject is not popular amongst many surgical trainees,
with many experiencing “statistics anxiety”. Thus, we
adopted a constructivist approach in which hands‐on
activities and visualised interactive datasets enabled
students to construct new knowledge and become more
independent learners and problem solvers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2017
EventAssociation for Medical Education Europe (AMEE) 2017 Annual Congress - Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 26 Aug 201731 Aug 2017


ConferenceAssociation for Medical Education Europe (AMEE) 2017 Annual Congress
Abbreviated titleAMEE 2017
Internet address


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