Teaching: the role of active manipulation of three-dimensional scatter plots in understanding the concept of confounding

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Abstract

In teaching epidemiology, confounding is a difficult topic. The authors designed active learning objects (LO) based on manipulable three-dimensional (3D) plots to facilitate understanding of confounding. The 3D LOs help illustrate of how confounding can occur, how it generates bias and how to adjust for it. For the development of the LOs, guidelines were formulated based on epidemiology and theories of instructional design. These included integrating the conceptual and empirical aspects: the causal relationships believed to be operating in the study population (conceptual aspect) and data-oriented associations (empirical aspect). Other guidelines based on theories of instructional design included: actively engage the students, use visual methods when possible, and motivate the students about the importance of the topic. Students gave the method strong positive evaluations. Experts in epidemiology agreed that the 3D LOs apply generally accepted scientific views on confounding. Based on their experiences, the authors think that the 3D plots can be useful addition in the teaching of confounding. The article includes links and a downloadable file that provide a demonstration of the 3D LO-based teaching materials
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6
Number of pages12
JournalEpidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations
Volume2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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