Education in Statistics for Social Scientists From a ‘necessary evil’ to a necessary and interesting

12 mei 2017 , door: Dimitris Pavlopoulos


 

Contactgegevens

Naam en voorletters:   D Pavlopoulos
Functie:   Universitair Docent
Afdeling, Faculteit:   Sociologie, FSW
Email   d.pavlopoulos@vu.nl
SKO / LOL:   SKO-project
Project opgezet voor:   Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen

 

Onderwerp

Education in Statistics for Social Scientists From a ‘necessary evil’ to a necessary and interesting

The aim of this SKO-project was to improve the integration of the 2 basic courses of Methods and Statistics of all Bachelor programs of FSW (Methoden van Sociaal Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek and Beschrijvende en Inferentiële Statistiek) with the rest of the curricula. These courses belong to the academic core (academische kern) of Bachelor education and are followed by all freshmen BSc students of the Faculty. Specifically, the project aims at ensuring that the knowledge acquired in these courses is maintained in the courses that follow so that the end goals of the education program with respect to Methodology are reached.

Reaching the end goals of the education programs with respect to skills in Methods is extremely important for the labour market perspectives of the graduates. The need for improving the methodological skills of university graduates in social sciences is well-understood worldwide. Having the necessary methodological skills to analyze social problems and being able to understand and analyze data sources is a key factor for the transition of FSW graduates to employment. Regardless of whether graduates are employed as researchers, analysts, junior or policy officials, their analytical skills and their ability to understand and analyze data plays a key role in their success.

The problem that this project attempte to solve is that although these 2 M&T courses are very successful as individual courses (both the success rate and the satisfaction of students are at very high levels), the end goals of the education programs with respect to Methodology and Statistics are not universally met. This means that even in curricula that have a strong quantitative orientation, such as the BSc of Communication Science, there are lots of inequalities between graduates in what they are actually able to do. Many students treat Methodological courses as a ‘necessary evil’ or in other words as courses that they just have to pass in order to get a degree. The educational programs themselves fail to adequately integrate these courses and to convince students that methodological skills are an integral part of education in their discipline.



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