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‘No more pointy-clicking, numbers stuff: building staff quantitative skills’

Dr John Goldring & Dr Julie Scott JonesDepartment of Sociology, MMUESRC Grant: ES/J011703/1


Background to Project: key issues

Dept. of Sociology, MMU, is one of largest post-92s that still provides compulsory QM in curriculum.

L4, third of RM curriculum, L5, half of RM curriculum. L6 no formal QM & 2-3 QM-



L4 & L5 RM units have lowest pass rates of all units; lowest coursework averages; highest rates of NS; teaching & support shows mixed feedback.

RM teams have had to fight to keep RM &


as compulsory aspects of curriculum.


Background to Project: key issues

Currently none of RM teaching teams are QM active researchers /specialists.

Staff survey (2011); 37 active teaching staff; only 4 self-identify as QM researchers.

18 members of staff have taught/currently teach RM.

Of this 18 only received ‘introductory’ QM training as PGs.

Only 9 of the 18 felt ‘confident’ in teaching QM.

50% of sociology staff would like to develop their QM skills for both teaching & research purposes.


Project: Key Questions

How do we ensure that no students are being taught by staff who have low level (or even no) QM skills?

How do we develop sociology staff’s QM skills so that they can become more effective (& confident) QM teachers?

How do we support teaching staff in their teaching practice?

How do we ensure that all staff have sufficient QM skills to ensure that ‘numbers work’ is embedded across the curriculum, outside of specialist methods courses?

How do we


staff and develop their QM skills to a more advanced level & therefore be more able to support L6 students & become active quantitative researchers?

How do we develop a programme of staff development that has longevity and will not end when the funding runs out?


Project: Key Aims

Ensure that all staff who teach RM at levels 4 and 5, have been trained in a range of quantitative research methods skills, including surveys and secondary data analysis (up to and including correlation).

Ensure that all staff who teach Level 6 RM have been trained in more specialised quantitative research methods, specifically advanced secondary data analysis.

Develop and run two institutionally accredited staff training courses (one introductory and one advanced) in QM that will be run specifically for sociology staff but will be available to all staff in disciplines apart from the Sciences.

Develop and run annual workshops focusing on teaching strategies & techniques for RM tutors, to build staff pedagogic skills in relation to QM and numbers work

Develop & run a peer-coaching system for staff involved in teaching QM at levels 4-5 to develop staff confidence and skills.

Develop and enact a strategy that encourages all staff to develop their quantitative skills in order to embed statistical literacy within non-RM courses.


A focus on pedagogy

Statistical Conscientization

Back to front - focus on


student needs to develop workshop approaches

How to facilitate engagement and understanding?

Teaching what?

Conflating technical skills (


) with conceptual issues

Framing the message, targeting the student

Statistics – but through a ‘sociological lens’ (Kennedy 1998)


Modes of delivery

Chalk ‘n’ Talk – valued by students but does it work?

Threshold concepts – recognising the troublesome knowledge





Mathematical lens?

Concept Tests (

Mazur 2009

)– engaging and debates

Workshop focus – technical, conceptual and pedagogical (TCP)