Anyone pursuing a degree in the field of science, especially in biology or biology education, will eventually encounter Biostatistics. Biostatistics will teach you many useful ways to manipulate programs such as Microsoft Excel for the purpose of data analysis. At many schools, Biostatistics will be a stepping stone to higher science courses such as Ecology and Zoology. Biostatistics will enable you to take raw data and make sense out of it, but this class does include a few hurtles.
In order to survive Biostatistics, It is essential that you organize your Biostatistics notes since the concepts build upon lessons learned earlier in the class. During the first few weeks you will be introduced to histograms, contingency tables, box & whisker plots, and other methods of creating graphs using data analysis programs. Learning the right sequence of button pressing for your classes’ data analysis program will save you time and energy. Write down all of the steps for each function on a separate note card. This will keep your work at the computer organized and efficient.
Biostatistics is heavily mathematic, but your ability to use the formulas will derive solely from your understanding of the concepts behind the formulas. Knowing why you are using a formula is equally as important as know how to use it. Keep up with the chapters, read in between the lines, know the material in depth, and be able to distinguish which method of data analysis to apply to specific scenarios.
For example, towards the end of your Biostatistics class, you will learn five scenarios of data analysis: one population proportion, difference in two population means for independent samples, one population mean, population mean of paired differences, difference in two population proportions for independent samples. You will be given these five scenarios that, upon initial inspection, look very similar and you will be taught to key in on subtle clues as to which data analysis method to pair for each scenario.
The concepts behind data analysis in Biostatistics class are not necessarily difficult or complex; moreover they are diverse and multi-faceted ideas. During Biostatistics you will learn that there is more than one way to skin a cat, meaning that for every problem you encounter, there may be multiple methods of solving it. It will be up to you to refine the techniques acquired in class. The best way to double-check your understanding of Biostatistics is to complete the homework and, if possible, meet with your professor. Checking your work with a professor can be an invaluable resource – it alerts them that you are trying hard in the class and you will receive advice on how to improve your statistical methods.
Biostatistics can be a ruthless and unforgiving class but it is not an impossible journey. With patience, practice, and a few visits the professor’s office, you should have no trouble succeeding.