Speaker: Paul Foss, National Numeracy
Social science undergraduate students typically do not see themselves as requiring data skills. Many new entrants to higher education have very low-level mathematics skills and may have stopped actively engaging with numbers at the age of 16, when last obliged to do so.
The National Numeracy charity has been championing the improvement of numerical skills (to at least Level 2 or equivalent) in the adult population for some time, battling against a national perception that working with numbers is hard and avoidable. Indeed a low level of numeracy is often seen as almost something to be proud of! Their Challenge Check Up tool enables people to assess their level of skill and confidence and to work with online materials to improve their capabilities.
With the Q-Step programme’s deliberate focus on developing quantitative skills (often from a very low starting point), The Nuffield Foundation asked National Numeracy to work with a range of universities to assess the numeracy levels of students on entry and to offer a support package to help them improve. The results are remarkable.
Just 26% of participating students had the Essentials of Numeracy – the numerical skills and understanding identified as needed for daily life and the workplace. The implications of this finding for universities are that students may not necessarily have the numeracy skills needed to fully understand their course, progress successfully into a career, or even confidently manage their daily lives at university. For universities to tackle this issue, an understanding of their students’ numeracy levels is crucial so that they can provide support for students to improve where needed.
Paul’s data analysis covers all aspects of the charity’s work, including the National Numeracy Challenge statistics, overseeing educational projects, and work with external partners. He also heads up all the charity’s activity in the areas of Financial Capability and Plain Numbers, the campaign for the clearer communication of numbers and data. He is a freelance data analyst with over 20 years’ experience in the private sector, and a background in teaching secondary school maths.
Tea/coffee and cakes from 2.45.
Join us for this event, which is part of the CMI Afternoon Seminar Series. All welcome. No registration necessary.
The Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMI) provides a focal point at The University of Manchester for the application of quantitative methods in interdisciplinary social science research in order to generate a world class research environment.