Teaching Stata and statistics in contexts of evidence-based medicine and clinical trials
International experiences with students (high school, medical) and clinical investigators (courses, trials' meetings) demonstrate that Stata is highly visual, intuitive, and relatively straightforward. Stata helps the teacher communicate efficiently and effectively about methods and concepts relating to data management, statistics, reporting, the nature of evidence and causality, and the technology of trials. For example, core aspects of medical research (randomized trials, survival plots) do not require sophisticated modeling methods and are essential (i.e. repeatedly used to answer different questions). A subset of Stata components aligns with non-Stata course content to constitute a "basic curriculum" for individuals without much statistical training or research experience. Hands-on use of Stata (e.g. individual laptops) using a small set of concocted databases with highly relevant questions may be matched in real-time to a presentation of course content. Stata quickly becomes an easy "add-on" to an organized presentation of course content. Consistent with educational psychology, the combination of didactic presentation and dynamic (i.e. Stata) interactions more effectively engages learners and improves learning and retention. Learners simultaneously pick up Stata as a skill. Theoretical and practical features of this teaching approach, relevant from elementary school to medical professionals and clinical investigators, will be described and demonstrated.
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