Training Quantitative Social Science Teachers in the UK: Developing an International Pedagogic Collaborative Network for Quantitative Methods

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences


To address the severe quantitative deficit in British Social Science, it is not enough to increase QM in research methods teaching alone. The embedding of quantitative materials in substantive areas is essential to bridge the gap of knowledge and skills in the application of statistics in social science research. Developing quantitative teaching materials often requires substantial time investment and advanced skills (MacInnes 2009). Insufficient awareness of the vast amount of quantitative social science research also creates a great barrier to an (QM) integrated undergraduate curriculum in most universities. To fill this lacuna, we will bring in expertise in quantitative methods in Europe and North America to strengthen our training provision. We will host a series of workshops to provide an opportunity for face-to-face interaction between these international experts and our intended audience. The workshops will focus on different stages of the undergraduate curriculum and on both QM teaching and subject specific modules. The experts we plan to enlist come from a group of 'power-houses' in quantitative social science in Europe and North America: University of California - Berkeley, University of California - Los Angeles, Wisconsin-Madison, VU University Amsterdam, and KU Leuven. Participants will learn how QM and QM embedded Sociology are taught in the UG curriculum at these universities and will be encouraged to share their own experiences and challenges in teaching QM in the UK.

There will be four two-day workshops (details see Case For Support) with a final one-day closing conference over 18 months with a dedicated website on which participants can interact and share ideas. Our events are open to all UK social science teachers but each workshop is limited to 30 participants to maximise interaction. Both QM and non-QM teachers in the social sciences are welcome to enrol. For Workshops 1 to 4, on Day One our experts will offer master classes on delivering QM or substantive Sociology content. These sessions are not restricted to North American and European materials as participations from UK academics will provide comparative examples. All master classes will be video recorded and deposited online on a password protected project website. Participants will be encouraged to bring examples from their current courses (e.g. lecture notes and seminar exercises) to form a basis for discussion in the breakout sessions. Each workshop will be supported by a pre-designated reading list and preparatory materials hosted on the web. Participants are encouraged to submit teaching materials that they find useful before each workshop so they can be discussed and drawn to the attention of other delegates. At the end of the project a sample of the course materials will be transferred to a public repository with a higher profile (such as ReStore) for wider access.

The project will be evaluated by two surveys. We will ask participants before and after the workshops their competences and practices in teaching QM as well as substantive modules with quantitative research. We are also interested to gauge their attitudes towards using more QM in their social science teaching and awareness of quantitative publications, datasets and resources in their research areas. Formative feedback forms will also be used after each event to allow us to adapt subsequent workshops in the series where there is a clear desire for a change of pedagogic or environmental factors.

This RDI is designed to run alongside our proposed Curriculum Innovation (CI) project, in collaboration with the University of Plymouth. Sample materials from the CI project will be used in these workshops and we anticipate presenting the findings of the CI project at the final conference. However, as participants will be encouraged to work with their own materials and visiting speakers will bring their own resources, this RDI is not dependent on the success of the CI bid.

Planned Impact

We are confident that our workshop series will act as a catalyst in raising interest and awareness in QM teaching in the UK social science community. We expect the passion and commitment of our experts in 'mainstreaming' QM in social sciences will enthuse our participants who will then cascade this positive and healthy attitude towards QM to our undergraduate students. As detailed in the 'Pathway to Impact' attachment, our extensive network means that our regional focus in Wales does not preclude national and international participation of this inititative. The impact and visibility of our work is therefore wide ranging and sustainable through continuous collaborative efforts. Other short, medium and long term impact includes the development of an online community of QM and non-QM teachers; the promotion of international collaborative links in QM pedagogy; and the development of a core set of QM skills in undergraduates in social sciences curriculum.

The embedded web-forum we created would provide the focus for debates about QM pedagogy raised in the workshops. Our website will also host videos of master classes, in addition to the wide range of materials and teaching resources produced throughout the course of this series. The website will continue to host these activities after the project funding has ended and will be supported by the School of Social Science at Cardiff University.As well as using high-profile speakers to raise to issue of teaching QM we intend to capitalise on the engagement with the international community through the development of further collaboration. Future collaborative links with institutions outside of the UK will be sought and we anticipate a wide array of exchange activities to follow, e.g. visiting lectureships, hosting research students, postdoc researchers, undergraduate exchange programmes and short-term sabbaticals and international pedagogical placements.

Inevitably the workshops will explicitly explore how a set of core QM skills can be integrated and taught across undergraduate curriculums in UK HEIs. Implicitly this may mean that, through providing a forum for UK academics to identifying and developing common links between substantive areas and institutions, we also start to identify a common set of core QM skills for the UG curriculum across UK social science. Whilst the substantive areas will differ in topics, we may begin to reach a consensus over the level of generic QM knowledge undergraduates will be expected to achieve at each stage of their degree. Currently there is wide variation in what is covered in research method modules and very little communication between institutions (even between disciplines in the same institutions). This will provide a step change towards an agreed set of core QM skills that would enable the pooling together of common resources. This will also mean we are a step closer to establishing a national benchmark in QM capacity for all social science gradautes, increasing employability and signalling to potential employers what they can expect from social science graduates.


10 25 50
Description Drawing on the expertise in quantitative training and research in North America and Europe, our Researcher Development Initiative (RDI) had organised three national workshops providing training in teaching quantitative methods in social sciences. It is open to all research methods and social sciences teachers, with a particular focus on early career researchers (ECRs).

In order to maximum our reach to all HEIs nationally, we rotate our workshops in different parts of the country: Manchester, Birmingham, London and Cardiff.
Further work by the Cardiff Q-Step Centre in developing new ways of teaching QM in social sciences has been widely practised by both early career lecturers as well as graduate teaching assistants within the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University.
Exploitation Route Our aim is to increase the number of competent and confident social science teachers in higher education in the UK for our undergraduate students. Better trained quantitative social sciences teachers mean better quantitative literature graduates who will in turn benefit employers in the public, private and third sectors and therefore our economy. All presentations, slides and video clips are shared among participants internally on a secure log-in website.
Sectors Education,Other

Description This project has raised the profile of quantitative methods teaching in social sciences nationally and internationally. Our RDI workshop series has continued to reach a broad range of existing and potential quantitative methods teachers in social science subjects across universities in the UK, with a particular focus on advanced PhD students and early career researchers/HE teachers. This project had significant national impact, as evidenced by the following: • 73 QM teachers and stakeholders attended at least one of the five events. • 27 early career researchers and advanced PhD students took part in more than one workshop. • 11 RDI participants presented at one or more of the workshops and in the final closing conference. • This RDI has an extensive institutional reach across the four nations in the UK and provided training for QM teachers and early career researchers in 31 higher education institutions. • Our QUANT@C (Quantitative Methods Teaching @Cardiff) has 3939 page views from 43 countries across the globe (16 European, 11 African and 9 Asian/Middle Eastern countries). The average page view time was 213 seconds and 123 seconds for all RDI events. • Observations and discussion on curriculum design fed directly into our (successful) Q-Step and continue to inform the new programme we are developing at Cardiff (BSc Social Analytics) Three Q-Step lecturers from Cardiff were awarded funding within Cardiff University and Cardiff Q-Step Centre to visit the Department of Statistics and COMPASS (Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences) at the University of Auckland in December 2016. The purpose of this trip was to exchange good practice in quantitative pedagogy and embedding quantitative methods in substantive social science teaching and learning for both undergraduate and further education students.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education,Other
Impact Types Societal

Description Training Curriculum Developers
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Cheung and Sloan were invited to provide online training materials and an in-house training workshops on survey and questionnaire design, and quantitative data analysis for curriculum developers in the International Baccalaureate headquarters in The Hague in January 2013.
Description Funding for teachers' placements in Quantitative Methods Teaching
Amount £7,500 (GBP)
Organisation Cardiff University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2014 
End 08/2015
Description Q-Step Centre
Amount £1,300,000 (GBP)
Organisation Nuffield Foundation 
Department Q-Step
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2013 
End 09/2018
Description BSc Social Analytics Pilot QCF level 3 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Following our RDI training model, at the 24 Sept launch event, the team introduced the world of quantitative analysis, in a social context to over 50 school students. The talk gave the audience a taster of what the course will cover, as well as discussing many of the benefits to students who chose to engage with the course. Benefits include enhancing UCAS applications for HE study, advice and guidance from the admissions tutor at Cardiff School of Social Science and also improving student's current attainment in their other level 3 qualifications.

More than 40 students signed up for the QCF level 3 courses delivered by the Cardiff Q-Step team at the School of Social Science in the autumn 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
Description Why Quantitative Methods 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The event sparked much enthusiasms and discussions among Year 12 and 13 students on the power of quantitative social sciences.

After the event, many students expressed an interest in taking our pilot A-level taster courses on Social Analytics at the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014