Through its Data + Decisions Destination Area, Virginia Tech inventively interweaves data science into its curriculum. Meet a faculty member using data in novel and world-changing ways.

If asked “What makes a good doctor?” patients likely will say an empathetic listener who can easily communicate complex health-related concepts.

Kristofer Rau, assistant professor of basic science education at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, uses data to more effectively teach medical students neuroscience, while also allowing them to hone their interpersonal skills by teaching complex subjects to children. He combines hands-on demonstrations in the classroom with opportunities for medical students to gain valuable experience by teaching younger learners.

Watch what happens when Rau and his students take brain science to youngsters.

Data shows that hands-on demonstrations are highly effective in making complex concepts more impactful for medical student learning. Medical students' retention and exam performance increases when they use those same learning tools to teach others.

Furthermore, having medical students teach complex concepts of neuroscience in grade school classrooms helps them learn to be more effective in communicating health information. As an added benefit, data supports that teaching health education to children at an early age fosters an understanding of their bodies, improved eagerness to learn, and an increased interest in STEM-related careers.

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