Mathematical modelling and medical students

Teaching Mathematics and its Applications has published an article by Zvi H. Perry about Change in senior medical students’ attitudes towards the use of mathematical modelling as a means to improve research skills. Here is the article abstract:

A PUBMED search for ‘mathematical models in medicine’ shows more than 15,000 articles covering almost every field of medicine. We designed a course with the goal of developing the students’ skills in computerized data analysis and mathematical modelling, as well as enhancing their ability to read and interpret mathematical data analysis. The study evaluated the acquisition of research skills and how to understand such data, as well evaluating the students’ feeling of competence. The course was structured as a 1-week (30-h) workshop for final year medical students. The study population consisted of 23 medical students who took the course in the 2005 academic year. Course evaluation used questionnaires that assessed the students’ satisfaction and mathematical knowledge. We found a significant change in the attitudes of our subjects, comparing their before and after attitudes towards their competence in the use of mathematical modelling, academically (i.e. their ability to read and understand articles using math models) as well as medically (i.e. their ability to implement theory that arises from math models to medical applications). We believe that the use of math modelling training in medical education significantly improved the students’ confidence in reading and applying math models in medicine; there is a tendency (albeit insignificant) towards superior results in attitudes of students towards math usage in medicine at large.

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