Basic statistics: are you with us or against us?

– I’m glad that this time no one cried in class!

How would you react if the teacher said this on your first day of the course? I can tell you what I did! I cried but at home 🙂 Well, this course was the most difficult one for me personally. And the winter darkness is the worst companion for the feeling that you’re the dumbest one in the world.

Forrest Gump

General Information

One of the most important parts of Epidemiology is statistics. Basic statistics and computer based statistical analysis (4FH071) was another course in the first semester (7,5 ECTS). So, what have we learned during this course?

The main outcome of this course is to get knowledge in basic statistics and common statistical analyses and learn how to interpret results. We learned how to work with statistical software STATA, where you can work with database coding commands. But why did someone cry? :’-) That was a big surprise for me as well because I had zero experience in coding! I literally felt that we are supposed to have some algorithms of code constructing in our brains. But I didn’t!  I would say that previous experience in working in statistical software would be a big advantage for you.

Crying while coding

Among the learning outcomes we achieved, I can mention the skills in building, organizing and administering databases, being able to describe the concept of probabilistic sampling, sampling distributions, point estimates and confidence intervals, interpret results in statistical analyses of continuous and categorical data.

Course activities

Our studying routine included lectures, seminars with working in STATA, weekly reviews where we explained concepts learned, home quizzes as well as home assignments. All of these activities are important, since the total score for the course was 100 points and quite a big part of them you collected by doing the homework assignments.

Aleksandra Kanina

IT happens

The written final exam made us explain many concepts, perform a lot of calculations and interpret results. Regardless of your career aspirations within epidemiology, you must know statistical interpretation, since you will use it in the next courses and beyond. As we wrote the exam, we had to use our calculators, so make sure:

  1. you have a professional one (pick the one with a lot of scientific functions)
  2. you actually know how to use it
  3. you know how to use formulas (LOL)

My main struggle was calculating. To be honest, I last used a calculator in high school and that was a loooooooooooong time ago.

Overall, the basic statistics course didn’t look that basic for me, but taking baby steps towards your goal always works!


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