"gis us a clue" - quantitative methods teaching in geography
“gis us a clue!”Quantitative Methods teaching in geography
The problem The British Academy is deeply concerned that the UK is weak in quantitative skills, in particular but not exclusively in the social sciences and the humanities. This deficit has serious implications for the future of the UK‟s status as a world leader in research and education, for the employability of our graduates, and for the competiveness of the UK‟s economy. Society Counts. A Position Statement from the British Academy (2012).
Some evidence Most social science students graduate with only a narrow range of QM skills, little confidence in using them and little practice in applying them. Few students use any QM in their project or dissertation work, and even fewer undertake secondary analysis of existing data – MacInnes (2010)
Subject benchmark: geography (2007) §3.12: – All geographers should be conversant with a substantial range of analytical and observational strategies, including most or all of the following: social survey and interviewing methods; geographical field research; laboratory-based analysis (both scientific and computational); quantitative analysis; qualitative analysis; and modelling strategies. Students should also be familiar with the developing technology associated with these strategies, such as computer packages for statistical and qualitative analysis, specialist computing and remote sensing.
In the Future of Statistics report Geography comes out well. – “There are many opportunities for the use of statistics in geography, including sampling and data collection, data display and interpretation. Many students experience these through their fieldwork. In addition, it is common for teachers to introduce students to techniques, such as Spearman‟s rank correlation, that are beyond the strict requirements of the GCSE syllabuses.” (The Future of Statistics in Our Schools and Colleges, 2012, p. 73, emphasis added)
The importance of fieldwork Geography is better at teaching statistics in context than the disciplines of maths and statistics are!
What is taught in schools? Varies by syllabus. „Investigative & Research Skills & Techniques‟ (for AS/A-level geography) by Redfern & Skinner (2008) includes – Null hypotheses, types of sampling, questionnaires, rating scales, arithmetic graphs, logarithmic graphs, lorenz curves, pie charts, bar graphs, proportional symbols, histograms, scattergraphs, flow lines, measures of central tendency, measures of dispersion, Spearman‟s rank, Location quotients, nearest neighbour statistic, chi-squared, Mann-Whitney U test & GIS
Please tick any of the following quantitative skills that you teach or use with your pupils.(Survey of teachers)
Which of the following GIS tools do you use?(Survey of teachers)
How confident are you in your knowledge of the following methods# Question Very Quite Slightly Not at all Total confident confident lacking in confident Responses confidence1 Mean average 78.7% 14.9% 5.3% 1.1% 942 Standard deviation 17.4% 46.7% 22.8% 13.0% 923 Spearmans rank 47.9% 24.0% 18.8% 9.4% 96 correlation4 Data collection in the 65.3% 28.4% 6.3% 0.0% 95 field5 Ways of presenting 45.8% 45.8% 7.3% 1.0% 96 data graphically6 Using geospatial 4.2% 39.6% 44.8% 11.5% 96 technologies such as GIS, GPS or remote sensing(Survey of teachers)
However… There is a relatively small cohort of young geographers taking up these research interests given the reduction of training in quantitative methods in most undergraduate and postgraduate geography programmes […] Given the trajectory of future research directions in geography internationally that include an emphasis on GIS and geospatial skills, renewed investment in the training of UK geographers in quantitative geography, GIS and cartography should be a high priority. – International Benchmarking Review of UK Human Geography (2013, p.12)
And, some challenges… Fieldwork is under threat in schools – Costly, disruptive, difficult to assess The teaching and use of geospatial technologies in schools – Professional knowledge, providing the computational infrastructure The (suspected) reduction of quantitative content in human geography Problems of choice and competition – At all levels of education
Some challenges… Perceived disconnect between school and University teachers Embedding quantitative methods in curricula Should we really be teaching 19th/20th century statistics in an age of „big data‟ (where the sample population)? Getting the balance between theory and data exploration – See http://www.r-bloggers.com/data-driven- science-is-a-failure-of-imagination/
Further information See www.quantile.info Or contact Katharine Fitzpatrick, firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks to: Catherine Souch, Katharine Fitzpatrick, Chris Brunsdon, Scott Orford, Alex Singleton, Claire Jarvis, Nicholas Tate, Michael Aspel, Michael Parkinson, Una Stubbs, Lionel Blair, Christopher Biggins.