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2016 | 3(2) | 10-19

Article title

Teaching quantitative research methods: the employability factor


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Various initiatives have been launched to encourage sociology students studying in the UK to engage more with quantitative research methods (for example: Dale et al., 2008; Adney and Carey, 2009; Falkingham et al., 2009), however, their success has been limited. Embedding quantitative methods in substantive sociology curricula has been suggested as one way to reduce students’ anxieties about learning quantitative research methods (Williams et al., 2015). This approach has been employed at Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences, where quantitative skills have been strategically incorporated into various aspects of a first year undergraduate substantive module. This paper will reflect on the experience of teaching on this module. The paper will conclude that while the introduction of quantitative content into substantive modules indicates support for change, embedding alone cannot be viewed as a single solution to encouraging to students’ to learn about or utilise quantitative research methods. Two possible reasons for this will be suggested. Firstly, it will be argued that the majority of students no longer pursue sociology at degree level in order to gain the skills to become a competent social researcher, but rather see sociology as a discipline that will equip them with transferable and desirable skills for many occupations. Consequently, engagement with quantitative research methods is not essential to students’ strategic approach to learning as it was for previous generations who wished to understand how to study their social world. Secondly, it will be suggested that the deficit of quantitative methods in mainstream British sociology journals and the methodological preferences of practicing sociologists leads to speculation over the available staff who are capable of delivering an integrated curriculum with quantitative methods embedded in substantive modules.



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