British Academy report highlights best international examples of teaching quantitative skills in social science degrees

21 Mar 2016

A new report published by the British Academy today asks UK universities to consider examples of excellent quantitative skills teaching in social science departments in other parts of the world, if they are to reach the standards achieved by leading universities elsewhere.

Measuring Up cites 16 case studies of social science teaching in universities in Europe, North America and Australasia which reach higher levels of achievement in quantitative skills than their UK counterparts. It argues that UK universities set their expectations far too low, and warns that UK social science education may fail to give students the skills they need. The report is part of ongoing work by the British Academy to address the UK’s numeracy skills deficit. 

Written by John MacInnes, Maddie Breeze, Maite de Haro, Mor Kandlik and Martina Karels (University of Edinburgh), the report found that elsewhere in the world, university degree programmes devote a much larger share of curriculum time to the study of methods, both quantitative and qualitative, and that their curricula give more attention to the collection, evaluation and analysis of empirical evidence. 

Measuring Up concludes that there is no ‘one best way’ to teach quantitative skills to undergraduates, but that these case studies show that small group work, working with real data, peer learning and frequent assessments are all common features of courses that allow students to obtain high levels of achievement. 

Download Measuring Up here.

You can also read Quantitative Skills and UK Higher Education Social Science by John MacInnes on the British Academy blog.

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