DEPARTMENT OF

Public Health Sciences

 

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Practicum 


The objective of the Collaborative Master Program in Biostatistics is to provide students with a unique opportunity to develop the analytic skills and practical experience needed to interact with practitioners and to work on current research projects in a variety of health areas. This objective is achieved through coursework and a practicum. After the student has successfully completed the required courses (6 core courses and 2 elective courses), he/she will start the 4 month practicum placement.​  

Objectives of the Practicum 

The objectives of the practicum are to give students the opportunity (i) to develop the analytical, technical and interpersonal skills required for a biostatistician to work effectively in the multi-disciplinary health research environments, and (ii) to apply the biostatistics research and analytic skills that they have learned in coursework to multi-disciplinary projects within health research groups in universities, hospitals, government agencies, industries and other related settings. Through the practicum placements, the experience that students gain in consulting, communication, report writing and team work will allow them to develop their consulting expertise.

Forms of Practicum 

There are two forms of practicum:

  1. Application Practicum - Practicum activities will vary according to student interest and nature of available projects. In many situations, suitable practica will include opportunities for data management, statistical programming, statistical analysis, attending group meetings, report writing, and presentation of results.
  2. Methodology Practicum - Practicum activities will pertain to some aspect of biostatistics methodological research affiliated with the work of the supervisor, a core faculty member in a biostatistics area.

Practicum Arrangement 

Four months prior to the start of the practicum (December), students should discuss with their academic supervisors how they will complete the practicum requirement for their degree. For students choosing to complete the application practicum this will include discussion on possible placements. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to provide possible placements for their students.

Students choosing to do a methodology practicum will complete the practicum proposal form with their supervisor documenting the objectives of the practicum, planned activities, possible biostatistical methodology developed through practicum, and potential contribution of the students in the placement.

Students choosing to do an application practicum, will first need to decide in consultation with their academic supervisor where (practicum site) they will do their practicum. Once this has been decided, the student will set up a meeting with both their on-site supervisor and academic supervisor to discuss their practicum project and to complete the practicum proposal form (Appendix I) documenting the objectives of the practicum, planned activities, the skills and competencies expected to acquire through practicum, and potential contribution of the students in the placement.

One month before the practicum starts, the completed practicum proposal form should be submitted to the program committee of the Collaborative MSc Program in Biostatistics for final approval and signatures.

Roles of Students and Supervisors in Practicum 

Role of student undertaking methodology practicum:

  • Identify main practicum objectives.
  • Meet with the academic supervisor to clarify objectives, actual research questions and possible methodology development.
  • Clarify the student contribution in the practicum.
  • Meet with their supervisor at least once a month to discuss progress.
  • Write the practicum report and present to the Practicum Examination Committee.
  • Feedback on practicum experience.

Role of student undertaking application practicum:

  • Identify main practicum objectives.
  • Meet with academic and on-site supervisors to clarify objectives, actual work and anticipated results.
  • Meet with their academic supervisor at least once a month to discuss progress.
  • Complete the tasks assigned by the on-site supervisor on time.
  • Be responsible for his/her own transportation and living costs.
  • Follow the regulations and guidelines set by the practicum site including completing any safety training required to work on-site.
  • Integrate into the project team.
  • Write the practicum report and present it to the Practicum Examination Committee.
  • Feedback on practicum experience.

Role of supervisor (academic):

The supervisor will play an import role into the intellectual development and education development of the students. The supervisor will act as a mentor and assist students in developing a plan of study to meet their academic objectives. This may include:

  • Coursework planning
  • Practicum arrangement
  • Meet with students regularly (monthly) to monitor their progress. For students undertaking the methodology practicum, the supervisor should complete the evaluation of student performance form (after meeting with the student) and submit it to the Graduate Assistant in the student's home department.
  • Communicate with on-site supervisor to deal with issues that arise during the practicum placement.
  • Provide an overall assessment of the students' performance in practicum.
  • Give advice to students on practicum report writing.
  • Arrange practicum report presentation for the student and structure the Practicum Examination Committee to evaluate the report and oral presentation of the practicum.
  • Identify/resolve issues or problems arising in the student's intellectual and education development.

Role of practicum (on-site) supervisor:

  • (mainly on practicum) Meet with student and academic supervisor to consolidate the practicum objectives for the student.
  • Orient the student on site and make the student feel comfortable with people working at the site.
  • Advise the student of any required safety training and ensure that training is completed if required.
  • Evaluate the student's progress according to the practicum objectives on a regular (monthly) basis by completing a student performance form and submitting this form via the academic supervisor to the Graduate Assistant in the student's home department.
  • Report any concerns to the academic supervisor.
  • Provide an overall assessment of the students' performance in practicum at the end of the term.

Practicum Report 

The students will write a practicum report after they complete their placement. For students undertaking application practicum, the report may consist of:

  • Background of the project involved
  • Site organization relevant to student placement
  • Objectives of practicum
  • Review of the application of biostatistics principles used in placement
  • Biostatistics practices performed
  • Resources utilized
  • Student role in the organization
  • Other related activities undertaken
  • Obstacles encountered
  • Outcomes achieved
  • Recommendations for future activities at the site
  • Impact of student’s participation in the project

For students undertaking a methodology practicum, the practicum report may include:

  • Objectives of practicum
  • Literature review
  • Statistical modeling and simulations
  • Innovative applications of statistical models to health data
  • Student's contribution

The practicum report should demonstrate a satisfactory general mastery of statistical knowledge and capability of problem solving. The final practicum report should be submitted through the academic supervisor to the Examination Committee before the end of August.

Practicum Evaluation 

The academic supervisor will assemble a Practicum Examination Committee to evaluate the student’s practicum performance, the practicum report and oral presentation of the report. Each member of the Committee will receive an overall assessment of the students’ performance during placement (Appendix II final completed form) and the practicum report two weeks prior the date of examination. The Examination Committee will consist of at least three faculty members: the supervisor, and two other members, one doubling as chair. The committee shall have at least one faculty member from each of the two participating Departments. The exam is to be approximately one hour of which the first 20 minutes will be devoted to an oral presentation by the student. The balance of time will be devoted to questioning. After the questioning the candidate will be asked to leave the room. The Examining Committee will then discuss the overall assessment provided by the academic supervisor or on-site supervisor for those students who completed an application practicum, the quality of the research report and of the candidate's presentation. The Examining Committee will then vote on the outcome of the exam. There are two possible outcomes: Pass and Fail. The decision is made by a majority vote of the Examining Committee. A tie will be taken as Fail.

Timeline of Practicum 

December January Februrary March April May June July August
Topic? Practicum proposal Approval Start practicum Finish, report, present

During practicum, students are advised to set one day a week to prepare practicum report and presentation. While in August, students are expected to spend most of their time focusing on report writing and presentation.