Q Step is an initiative for increasing quantification within the social sciences (http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/q-step). One of the strands within the HEA Social Sciences Conference (21 – 22 May 2014) dealt solely with this aspect of social sciences. There were some interesting talks on developing mathematics and statistics skills for social science students and embedding quantitative methods within social science research.
sigma presented at the conference to promote mathematics and statistics support for social sciences students, a group that historically has not been the primary user of maths support centres.
The main purpose of the sigma talk was to highlight the lack of mathematical skills many students have, the chronic shortage of students with mathematical skills prior to University study and to showcase the work sigma can do to help with this increasing quantification.
Some participants had already worked with the maths support centres within their institutions, and others reported they were going to investigate this possibility after the conference. After this, hopefully there will be a few more institutions setting up new maths support centres.
One issue that was reported by the participants was the lack of quantitative research skills within the social sciences academic community. Embedding increasing quantification within the curriculum is difficult if there is nobody who can teach this aspect of social sciences to their students.
The talk was well received, with about 20 participants attending from across the UK.
sigma Midlands Hub Co-ordinator
University of Wolverhamption