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This is a draft of the presentation that will be given at the HEA Social Sciences annual conference - Teaching forward: the future of the Social Sciences.
For further details of the conference: http://bit.ly/1cRDx0p
Bookings open until 14 May 2014 http://bit.ly/1hzCMLR or firstname.lastname@example.org
Part of the 'Apocalypse Now' conference theme, which requires the presenter to imagine their own future world scenario.
Quantitative methodologies are becoming increasingly important in the world of social sciences. The availability and accessibility of datasets of all kinds is growing at a phenomenal rate. For many academics in social sciences this is not a welcome development. For some it is a philosophical question about the value of different paradigms. For others, it is a more personal reason – they do not feel confident using quantitative methods. The 2012 RSA report “Solving the maths problem” highlighted this in its key findings “English universities are side-lining quantitative and mathematical content because students and staff lack the requisite confidence and ability” (our emphasis). However, it is seems clear that what might be termed “the march of quants” is gaining unstoppable momentum. Some might not like it, but it is a fact of life that quantitative approaches are becoming a necessity in most social science disciplines. In the face of this irresistible change, burying one’s head in the sand is not a particularly productive option. Accepting the inevitable and “going with the flow” are more likely to produce positive outcomes. This paper will point to ways in which this might be achieved.
This paper will outline how mathematics support has grown over the last 20 years from a focus almost exclusively on working with students from STEM disciplines to its current manifestation of supporting students from a wide range of disciplines, including many in the social sciences. Mathematics support is one mechanism by which universities are attempting to facilitate the transition into an increasingly numerate world for those who have not studied mathematics since GCSE, many of whom made a positive decision to avoid the subject in the future.