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Engaging students in quantitative research methods: An evaluation of Assessment for Learning strategies on an undergraduate social research methods module

In June 2012 HEA Social Sciences held its first learning and teaching summit which focused on teaching research methods in the Social Sciences. In December 2012 we commissioned 11 projects that were designed to explore further the issues identified at the summit.

There is a widespread assumption that sociology students have an aversion to numerical data and it is certainly the case that many find quantitative research methods and statistics courses difficult and peripheral to their degree subject. This poses particular challenges for methods teachers who are continually looking for innovative ways to demonstrate the importance of quantitative research skills and to encourage the more reluctant students to engage with statistical information. While these challenges are long-standing new opportunities have opened up with the recent pedagogic shift towards more interactive and student-centred approaches to teaching and an increasing emphasis on Assessment for Learning (AfL). This report describes the nature and outcomes of project designed to evaluate an AfL strategy employed in a quantitative research methods module taken by sociology undergraduates at the University of Ulster.

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