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Responding to the Quantitative Literacy Gap among Students in Sociology Courses

Esther Isabelle Wilder
Teaching Sociology
Vol. 37, No. 2 (Apr., 2009), pp. 151-170
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25593985
Page Count: 20
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Responding to the Quantitative Literacy Gap among Students in Sociology Courses
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Abstract

The Integrating Data Analysis (IDA) approach to undergraduate education developed by the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN) has been embedded in the undergraduate sociology curriculum at Lehman College, The City University of New York (CUNY), since 2003. This study draws on student and faculty assessment data from the fall 2004 and spring 2006 semesters to evaluate the effectiveness of this initiative. The results show that students in courses with an IDA component significantly improved their performance on quantitative skills tests. Efforts to engage students in active learning through the use of computers were associated with increased student comfort and greater interest in working with data. In turn, students who were comfortable working with data exhibited especially high levels of quantitative skill. Although students who were taught a wide variety of data analysis skills reported greater interest in working with data, those who were taught a more limited range of skills achieved higher performance scores. Likewise, students who were required to complete assignments and undertake graded examinations that tested a wide range of quantitative skills had less interest in working with data but achieved greater improvements in their test scores.

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