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Mathemetics and Statistics Skills in the Social Sciences

By Graham R. Gibbs

Abstract

The issues concerning numeracy and quantitative skills that exist for social scientists are somewhat different from those affecting many within the natural sciences and technology-related disciplines. In general students do not need to model systems algebraically or symbolically although they do need a good sense of number (scale, size, etc.) and an understanding of some of the logical principles and thinking that underlie mathematical proofs. The main area of application of these skills is in research methods and statistics.\ud Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) benchmarks and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Training Guidelines for postgraduates are very clear about the importance of methods and statistics in the social science disciplines. However, key surveys suggest that there is ‘a crisis of numeracy’ in social science disciplines. Many students are ill equipped to undertake quantitative work and there is a shortage of suitably qualified teachers. The response by academics has been, in part, to provide a range of mathematics support for students who need it. Alongside this, teachers have adopted a range of approaches to teaching quantitative methods including teaching statistics using formulae, teaching statistics using step-by-step instructions, and even teaching statistics without either calculations or formulae

Topics: BF, H1, HM
Publisher: The Maths, Stats and OR Network
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:8879

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