A Model of Cross-Disciplinary Communication for Collaborative Statisticians: Implications for Curriculum Design

Gregory P. Samsa, Thomas W. LeBlanc, Susan C. Locke, Jesse D. Troy, Gina-Maria Pomann


The ability to bridge multiple disciplines is critical to the successful practice of collaborative statistics, yet the
literature on statistical education devotes relatively little attention to how this skill can be taught. Our goal here is to
describe a general conceptual framework within which a curriculum on communication and leadership could
ultimately be organized.
The primary research question pertains to whether an actionable model of cross-disciplinary communication for
collaborative statisticians can be developed, and our task here is to describe such a model and also to illustrate its use.
Within this model most communications either share or request information. For example, statisticians might provide
information about statistics (e.g., specific statistical approaches, general statistical principles), comment on the
clinician’s understanding of statistics, share their understanding of clinical content, and request information (e.g.,
about clinical content, the design and execution of the study being discussed, etc.). Clinical investigators contribute
an analogous set of components. In addition, a critical element to the interaction is the higher-level task of
developing a mutually understood agreement about the work to be performed: in essence, proposing and negotiating
such an agreement.
The model is illustrated using a case study, and general qualitative feedback from investigators who performed the
case study was obtained, commenting on both successful and unsuccessful interactions with statisticians.
Implications for curriculum development are discussed.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jct.v7n2p1


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Journal of Curriculum and Teaching

ISSN 1927-2677 (Print) ISSN 1927-2685 (Online)

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