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Mathemetics and Statistics Skills in the Social Sciences

Gibbs, Graham R. (2010) Mathemetics and Statistics Skills in the Social Sciences. In: Responding to the Mathematics Problem: The Implementation of Institutional Support Mechanisms. The Maths, Stats and OR Network, St. Andrews, Scotland, pp. 44-50. ISBN 9780955591464

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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.
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.

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Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
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References: Dancey, C.P. & Reidy, J. Statistics Without Maths for Psychology (Harlow: Pearson, 2004, 3rd ed.). ESRC. Postgraduate Research Training Guidelines (2005, 4th ed.). Accessible via y/, (25 February 2010). Howitt, D. & Cramer, D. Introduction to Statistics in Psychology (Harlow: Pearson. 2005, 3rd ed.). Mulhern, G. & Wylie, J. “Mathematical Prerequisites for Learning Statistics in Psychology: Assessing Core Skills of Numeracy and Mathematical Reasoning among Undergraduates”, Psychology Learning and Teaching, vol. 5, no. 2 (2005): 119‐132. Murtonen, M. & Lehtinen, E. “‘Difficulties Experienced by Education and Sociology Students in Quantitative Methods Courses”, ‘Studies in Higher Education, vol 28, no. 2 (2003): 171-185. QAA. “Honours Degree Benchmark Statements”. Accessible via, (25 February 2010). Williams, M.. Baseline Study of Quantitative Methods in British Sociology, CSAP Project Report (2007). Accessible via www.c- (25 February 2010).
Depositing User: Graham Gibbs
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2010 11:01
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 21:59


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