Q-Step

Integration

As part of our commitment to tackling negative perceptions of statistics, we have been working directly with teachers across the social sciences to bring numbers out of the stats class and in to our substantive teaching. The aim is to show how quantitative skills provide new insights into all our lives, and how using numbers is simply one of the tools in a social scientist’s toolbox.

The materials below have been generated for use in this context. The materials have been created for specific courses at Kent, but we hope that they may be useful more widely, and encourage you to use these for your own teaching and study.

CB678 - Contemporary Management Challenges

CB678 - Module Summary

Basics

 Module Title: Contemporary Management Challenges School/Department: Kent Business School Level, compulsory?: Higher (Stage 2/3), optional Number of students: Type of activity/material: Seminar activity—group task, presentation & class discussion Substantive topic: Female representation on corporate boards Quantitative topic/skills: Descriptive statistics, creating graphs, (in Excel), interpretation of quantitative information Number/duration of sessions: One hour AV/IT requirements: Laptop/tablet with Microsoft Excel (students—can be in groups) Materials attached: Dataset -- Solution file --Worksheet Sources/further resources: Database on women and men in decision-making First integrated year: 2014/2015

The aim of the task was to allow students to discover the facts about levels and changes in female representation on corporate boards for themselves, from the data. In small groups (~4 students) the students calculated averages for one region (Eastern or Western Europe), created charts to plot the trends in their region and forecast how long it would take to reach gender parity based on the rates of change observed. The students presented the findings back to the class, and asked to put their findings into context of their other work on the course, and discuss the substantive implications of their findings.

Feedback from Module Convenor

Overall the exercise had significant academic merit and provided a practical test in the use of Excel which was both welcome and will be of practical benefit to students upon graduation. However, many of the students struggled with the content.

• Successful delivery of the session required the seminar leader to have a good working knowledge of Excel
• Skills within the group were lower than expected: they were able to complete the task with a significant amount of guidance, but were weak in independently identifying which Excel functions to use. Students struggled to explain their methodology.
• Skills within the group were varied: The task worked as a group exercise in which students helped one another

The task was designed to have students answer an interesting substantive question, and to work directly with the data themselves, at the suggestion of the module convenor. However, the low level and variability of the Excel skills combined with the difficulty of the ‘new’ task of matching the evidence to the questions being asked, meant that overall this task was probably too demanding. This led to a high reliance on the Excel skills of the seminar leader and variable success of the students with the exercise. Moving forwards we should consider (with the Module Convenor) what we should prioritise in future iterations—either matching data to interesting substantive questions (with less hands-on Excel work), or limiting the scope of the substantive questions asked.

CB678 - Materials

Law

LW313 - A Critical Introduction to Law

LW313 - Module Summary

LW313 - Word version of this summary

Basics

 Module Title: A Critical Introduction to Law School/Department: Kent Law School Level, compulsory?: Certificate (Stage 1), compulsory Number of students: 400 (class size 15) Type of activity/material: Seminar activity Substantive topic: Measuring legal systems Quantitative topic/skills: Operationalisation and measurement Number/duration of sessions: 1 hour AV/IT requirements: PC, projector, AV (for powerpoint and video display) Materials attached: Class materials, powerpoint slides Sources/further resources: World Bank Doing Business report http://www.doingbusiness.org/reports/global-reports/doing-business-2014 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index http://worldjusticeproject.org/rule-of-law-index First integrated year: 2014/2015

The purpose of the seminar is to get students to critically assess quantitative evidence on the quality of legal systems worldwide. It complements a lecture on ‘Measuring Legal Systems’. Students are asked to prepare for the seminar by familiarising themselves with the World Bank Doing Business and the World Justice Project Rule of Law 2014 reports. As an introduction, students compare their estimates of rankings to the data, and the two different ranking systems, for ten countries. The main exercise is the preparation, in small groups, of (1) a critical assessment of a recommendation to move towards Doing Business best practice; (2) a recommendation to move towards a different country in light of the Doing Business and Rule of Law rankings and a critical assessment of them. In light of these activities, students are asked to reflect on the quantification of legal systems.

Feedback from Module Convenor

The seminars went extremely well, and the students were very active and engaged. In particular, using simple physical labels to rank the countries led to greater engagement and comparison. The groups enjoyed this experience and the material will continue to be used, and perhaps incorporated into other modules too. This seminar was also run for post-graduate Law and Development students and went really well. An extra slide was included at the end, a regression scatter plot of the data from the task, which was thus used to explain the scatter plot. In the UG version this can be included in the lecture.

This task seems to have gone really well, and updating the material (using the current World Bank/World Justice reports) should be the only change to make in the future – in all likelihood this can be updated by the course convenor.

LW313 - Lecture Slides

LW313 - Materials

Politics and International Relations

PO653 - Marxism

PO653 - Module Summary

PO653 - Word version of this summary

Basics

 Module Title: Marxism School/Department: Politics and International Relations Level, compulsory?: Higher (Stage 2/3), optional Number of students: 20 Type of activity/material: Lecture / seminar discussion Substantive topic: Working time and productivity; Autonomy and control in the workplace Quantitative topic/skills: Interpreting quantitative information, Operationalisation, descriptive statistics Number/duration of sessions: Integrated within 2 x 2-hour sessions AV/IT requirements: Working time and productivity: Powerpoint/projector Autonomy and control: as above plus projecting from PC in real time (instructor); web-enabled device (laptop/tablet)(students). Materials attached: Working time and productivity: Slides and worksheet Autonomy and control in the workplace: Slides and worksheet Sources/further resources: World Values Survey online analysis: www.worldvaluessurvey.org First integrated year: 2014/2015

Working Time and Productivity: students are asked to consider some empirical facts about working time and labour productivity (presented graphically). Autonomy and Control: Following a discussion of their own experiences of control at work, students are presented with survey evidence (World Values Survey). Using the online analysis tools, students are asked to think about summarising the data (mean, standard error of the mean, confidence intervals); and to consider other variation in the data (across countries, across educational groups).

Feedback from Module Convenor

The tasks worked well, particularly discussions of operationalisation: how far should subjective assessments be accepted and given validity when collecting survey data. The students seemed intrigued and open-minded to the possibilities. Will use the material again.

The task seemed to work well to stimulate students’ critical engagement with the sources and nature of the survey evidence, as well as issues of operationalisation and measurement more broadly. As this was our first year of integrating this material, the quantitative elements of the `Autonomy and Control’ session were delivered by the Q-Step team member. Moving forward, this contribution can become less direct, and gradually reduce. Some support from Q-Step may be needed to update and modify slightly for next year—particularly for creating group exercises for use in a larger lecture.

Autonomy & Control in the Workplace and Beyond

Work Time and Productivity

Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

SO536 - Criminal Justice in Modern Britain

SO536 - Module Summary

Basics

 Module Title: Criminal Justice in Modern Britain School/Department: Social Policy, Sociology & Social Research (Criminology) Level, compulsory?: Intermediate (Stage 2), compulsory Number of students: About 50 20 Type of activity/material: Lectures / seminar activity and assessment (methodological critique essay task Substantive topic: Crime trends; gender, ethnicity and crime Quantitative topic/skills: Interpreting and using statistics Number/duration of sessions: 2 x 1 hour lectures; 1 hour seminar - one per term of two-term course AV/IT requirements: Materials attached: Lecture slides (x2); assessment task and material Sources/further resources: First integrated year: 2014/2015

Two lectures incorporating statistics on crime and a critical engagement with the measurement of crime were incorporated into this (team-taught) course. The assessment on crime statistics asked for a methodological critique of a published article on trends in remand rates; there was also an essay question on the gender and race statistics in the second term.

Feedback from Module Convenor

The lectures were relatively successful, although the lecture on crime statistics somewhat ‘polarizing’: some students were overwhelmed by the volume of information. The seminar task worked well: students came to the seminar prepared and engaged in good, engaged, and critical discussions. However, students remained unlikely to choose the quantitative assessments, and those who did so performed relatively poorly. Thus the assessment task is unlikely to be used again. On the other hand, among students answering traditional essay questions on gender and ethnicity there was a marked improvement in the incorporation of statistical evidence, indicating some success overall.

This module, as a team taught course, includes lecture tasks delivered by the Q-Step team (and will continue to do next year). In general the integrated material seems to have gone well, with the exception of the assessments which can be omitted in the future.

SO536 - Lecture Slides

SO536 - Materials

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Last Updated: 24/07/2015