Global perspectives in a statistics module


Hamed Adetunji, Vanessa Simonite


SHSC, Technology


Assessment: students were provided with a data file derived from data downloaded from the World Health Organisation, containing global data related to the Millenium Development Goals. The assignment asked students to formulate their own research question and to analyse and report the findings, using variables selected from the data provided.


Module P44616 Statistics for Health and Social Care, for students enrolled in MSc Public Health. The students consist of medical/health/social care professionals; the 07/08 cohort including students from 13 countries (Britain, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Ghana, India, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe).


To provide students with an opportunity to carry out a small-scale investigation using data with an international perspective reflecting students’ diverse backgrounds and future locations.


The course teaches quantitative research methods to students enrolled on the MSc Public Health.


Students chose to investigate a wide range of health-related issues, including comparisons of caesarean rates, incidence of TB, infant mortality and other health variables between developed/developing countries.


Asking students to devise their own small-scale analyses of international data encourages students to take a global perspective on the usefulness of what they have learnt, and the students’ own findings also inform their world view.

Global inequalities between countries often lead to variables with asymmetric distributions, creating valuable teaching points in statistical terms. Sometimes surprising results lead to useful discussion of data collection/reporting issues in different countries.

Other comments

While statistical methods may be assumed to be concerned with calculation, in reality their aim is always to provide or create new knowledge and understanding.

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