SIMPLE: helping to introduce statistics to social science students

Catherine O Fritz, Brian Francis, Peter E Morris, Moira Peelo

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


Social science students are typically less than positive about developing quantitative skills. This paper reports on efforts, with support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), to identify and address problems that arise when teaching quantitative analysis skills to social science students. Problems include: the misperception that quantitative skills are not relevant to their field; wide variation among students in their basic skills; and lack of resources to support the learning of quantitative skills. Through the SIMPLE (Statistics Instruction Modules with Purposeful Learning Emphasis) project, a mechanism is provided to help tutors address these problems. SIMPLE is a practice-based system for teaching statistical concepts and skills to social science students and is based on principles from psychological research about learning. The project has two main components:

• Software that will organise, schedule and track performance on online teaching units with user-friendly interfaces for both tutors and students;

• A small set of fully defined online modules, including explanatory materials and embedded formative and diagnostic assessment.

Both the software and the modules are being developed as a pilot project and are being used for first year psychology students in 2007-2008. They will be made available to interested parties in the summer of 2008.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRESPONDING TO THE MATHEMATICS PROBLEM: The Implementation of Institutional Support Mechanisms
EditorsC. M. Marr, M. J. Grove
PublisherMath Centre
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780955591464
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010


  • Statistics learning
  • interactive teaching materials


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