Assessing Statistical Competencies in Clinical and Translational Science Education: One Size Does Not Fit All

Robert A. Oster, Christopher J. Lindsell, Leah J. Welty, Madhu Mazumdar, Sally W. Thurston, Mohammad H. Rahbar, Rickey E. Carter, Bradley H. Pollock, Andrew J. Cucchiara, Elizabeth J. Kopras, Borko D. Jovanovic, Felicity T. Enders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: Statistics is an essential training component for a career in clinical and translational science (CTS). Given the increasing complexity of statistics, learners may have difficulty selecting appropriate courses. Our question was: what depth of statistical knowledge do different CTS learners require? Methods: For three types of CTS learners (principal investigator, co-investigator, informed reader of the literature), each with different backgrounds in research (no previous research experience, reader of the research literature, previous research experience), 18 experts in biostatistics, epidemiology, and research design proposed levels for 21 statistical competencies. Results: Statistical competencies were categorized as fundamental, intermediate, or specialized. CTS learners who intend to become independent principal investigators require more specialized training, while those intending to become informed consumers of the medical literature require more fundamental education. For most competencies, less training was proposed for those with more research background. Discussion: When selecting statistical coursework, the learner's research background and career goal should guide the decision. Some statistical competencies are considered to be more important than others. Baseline knowledge assessments may help learners identify appropriate coursework. Conclusion: Rather than one size fits all, tailoring education to baseline knowledge, learner background, and future goals increases learning potential while minimizing classroom time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-42
Number of pages11
JournalClinical and translational science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Assessment
  • Research training
  • Statistical competency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


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