Dr Heather Morgan, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, tells us about the Statistics support clinic that runs daily mostly for MSc students and how it has helped them with their stats queries. 

Problem

In the Institute of Applied Health Sciences, we have a statistics support clinic that runs daily at lunchtime, mostly for MSc students, throughout the year. It offers first come, first served, one to one access to a statistician (different statisticians staff a rota) to resolve statistical issues during taught and project phases of our programmes. My project students (BSc and MSc) have benefited from this resource as I am not a statistician and cannot provide the level of advice required for stats queries. Meanwhile, however, I seemed to have become the ‘go to’ qualitative research expert in our Institute and each year (2012-2017), during project time, I have received an increasing number of individual requests by students (referred by supervisors) for help with qualitative aspects of their projects.  

Solution

When I applied for my new role, Lecturer in Applied Health Sciences (Scholarship) – appointed October 2017, I pitched the introduction of a similar clinic for qualitative research to address student and supervisor needs and more effectively manage the requests I was receiving. When appointed, I advertised 2 hour weekly support sessions for students registered on PU5529 Qualitative Health Research so that they could book 20 minute slots with me one to one or in small groups. During PU59XX Research Projects, I ran a needs assessment survey across all our MSc programmes to identify students working on projects with qualitative study designs, what methodologies they were working with and what additional support they might need. I designed a programme of ten tailored workshops at various time points to support project conduct, individually or in small groups. 

Evaluation

SCEF form feedback and assessment results for PU5529 suggested that the weekly bookable support sessions were well received and had impact in improving the quality of student understanding and output according to our learning outcomes and assessment thereof. Students have provided positive informal feedback about the usefulness of project workshops during PU59XX courses, which are ongoing at present. Both models of support will be continued into next session.

Impact

Next year, additional support will be provided for systematic reviewing (a specific methodology which is taught in one course and may be adopted in research projects) so that we will run three types of methodological support clinics for students across our programmes throughout the year: statistics, qualitative research and systematic reviewing.