BIOL309-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021

Experimental Design and Data Analysis for Biologists

15 points

Details:
Start Date: Monday, 19 July 2021
End Date: Sunday, 14 November 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 1 August 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 1 October 2021

Description

Advanced experimental design and statistical techniques for biologists. This course is essential for all students considering postgraduate study in biological sciences.

This course provides a detailed understanding of how the interpretation and analysis of data
depends on the way the data were collected. It covers various aspects of experimental design,
a variety of statistical methods to analyse data, basic programming in R, and places a heavy
emphasis on interpreting the results of analysis. It is intended for anyone who would like to
know more about designing robust research, analysing datasets of various kinds, or who
wishes to better identify the misleading use of statistics in the media or in research. The
experimental design component is particularly suited for anyone who plans to do postgraduate
research in any theme of biological sciences, or who would like to pursue a career in any field
where it is useful to identify patterns in data.

Learning Outcomes

  • As a student in the course, I will develop the ability to:
    1. Identify potential analysis approaches, and apply a wide range of statistical tests (including linear models, non-parametric tests, and generalised linear models) to answer scientific questions (assessment tasks: Lab assessments, Mid-semester test, Final exam). (Graduate attribute: Employability, innovation and enterprise)
    2. View statistical methods as an inter-related set of tools that can be applied to different situations, and to be able to defend your choice of analysis for a given problem.
    3. Design robust experiments and research using observational data, and interpret the results of analysis in light of experimental design (assessment tasks: Lab assessments, Mid-semester test, Final exam). (Graduate attribute: Employability, innovation and enterprise);
    4. Carry out analyses and basic programming in the R statistical package (assessment task: Lab assessments). (Graduate attribute: Employability, innovation and enterprise)
    5. Interpret data with an understanding of how certain we can be about what we know, and how hidden variables may cloud our judgement or give a false impression of causation (assessment tasks: Lab assessments, Mid-semester test, Final exam). (Graduate attribute: Employability, innovation and enterprise).

    Pūkenga Ngaio | Transferable Skills
    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • The ability to phrase statistically rigorous, biologically interesting hypotheses.
  • The ability to identify the best experimental design to test specific questions.
  • Proficiency with a diverse array of statistical tests and data manipulations in the R programming environment.
  • The ability to interpret statistical results presented in scientific papers.
  • The ability to communicate the biological meaning of statistical tests.

Pre-requisites

BIOL209 or
appropriate statistical background as determined by the Head of School

Timetable 2021

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 13:00 - 14:00 E16 Lecture Theatre
19 Jul - 29 Aug
13 Sep - 24 Oct
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 14:00 - 15:00 E16 Lecture Theatre
19 Jul - 29 Aug
13 Sep - 24 Oct
Computer Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 09:00 - 11:00 Jack Erskine 001 Computer Lab
26 Jul - 29 Aug
13 Sep - 24 Oct

Examination and Formal Tests

Test A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 18:30 - 19:30 K1 Lecture Theatre
23 Aug - 29 Aug

Timetable Note

FEEDBACK FROM PREVIOUS COURSE SURVEY

Student ratings (out of 5) 2018
The materials provided helped me to understand what was required to succeed in this course. 4.45
The organisation of this course helped me learn. 4.51
I found the workload was appropriate to the level of the course. 4.5
I found the assessments appropriate for the course. 4.45
Where I sought feedback on my assessments, I found it helpful. 4.45

Helpful features
1. Lecture slides were informative and easy to follow, along with a good explanation of each slide.
2. The 309 lab manual has been extremely useful in understanding the course content.
3. Very good organisation of the course, small frequent quizzes and labs with recap sessions at the end helped a lot!
4. The lecture content order seemed good.
5. A lot less stressful than the assessments for 209, I really appreciated the types of assessments being changed to smaller but more frequent assignments. Helped me learn more as I was less
stressed.
6. The online lab tests were good, they sound a lot better than a big lab exam, and they helped me learn the lecture material throughout the term rather than waiting for exam time
7. The nature of the internal tests seemed fair as it would've been very difficult to memorise all the R coding, especially as it comes later with continual use.

What to change? (Action/response indicated in bold)

The lectures where well organised but the lecture slides online had important parts of it deliberately left blank. This makes it a bit harder to go back through notes and reinforce learning.
This is deliberate, because research shows that if you make notes and write things down (rather than just listening or reading), you retain the information better. However, writing too much down during a lecture can prevent you from having any time to stop and think. As a compromise, we give much of the long text and figures in the powerpoints, but leave blank the key words for you to write them down yourself to help you remember them.

But the labs we worth so few % and had tasks that were either extremely simple or extremely difficult no in between. I think it would perhaps be better to have a series of labs over the course to learn information as you go, or two weekly quizzes worth 5% or maybe even less just because they really help you learn as you go.
We already have approximately two-weekly tests worth 5%, so not sure how to address this. Lab tests have some easy questions so that hopefully nobody gets zero, and then progressively more difficult questions. The R code to answer them always comes from a previous lab.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Helen Warburton

Lecturer

Ian Dickie

Assessment

Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Final exam 50%
Lab assessments 30% 5 x 6%
Mid semester test 20%

Additional Course Outline Information

Notes

Feedback from previous Course Survey            2018
Student ratings (out of 5)                                    
The materials provided helped me to understand what was required to succeed in
this course.                                                                                                                       4.45                                               The organisation of this course helped me learn.                                                                  4.51
I found the workload was appropriate to the level of the course.                                       4.5
I found the assessments appropriate for the course.                                                            4.45
Where I sought feedback on my assessments, I found it helpful.                                         4.45

Helpful features
1. Lecture slides were informative and easy to follow, along with a good explanation of each slide.
2. The 309 lab manual has been extremely useful in understanding the course content.
3. Very good organisation of the course, small frequent quizzes and labs with recap sessions at the end     helped a lot!
4. The lecture content order seemed good.
5. A lot less stressful than the assessments for 209, I really appreciated the types of assessments being       changed to smaller but more frequent assignments. Helped me learn more as I was less stressed.
6. The online lab tests were good, they sound a lot better than a big lab exam, and they helped me learn the lecture material throughout the term rather than waiting for exam time.
7. The nature of the internal tests seemed fair as it would've been very difficult to memorise all the R coding, especially as it comes later with continual use.

What to change? (Action/response indicated in bold)
The lectures where well organised but the lecture slides online had important parts of it
deliberately left blank. This makes it a bit harder to go back through notes and reinforce
learning.
This is deliberate, because research shows that if you make notes and write things down
(rather than just listening or reading), you retain the information better. However,
writing too much down during a lecture can prevent you from having any time to stop
and think. As a compromise, we give much of the long text and figures in the
powerpoints, but leave blank the key words for you to write them down yourself to help
you remember them.
But the labs we worth so few % and had tasks that were either extremely simple or extremely
difficult no in between. I think it would perhaps be better to have a series of labs over the
course to learn information as you go, or two weekly quizzes worth 5% or maybe even less
just because they really help you learn as you go.
We already have approximately two-weekly tests worth 5%, so not sure how to address
this. Lab tests have some easy questions so that hopefully nobody gets zero, and then
progressively more difficult questions. The R code to answer them always comes from a
previous lab.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $910.00

International fee $4,438.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL309 Occurrences

  • BIOL309-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021
  • BIOL309-21S2 (D) Semester Two 2021 (Distance)