In the Q-Step Centre we recognise that even the most numerate student can have a quantitative wobble and suddenly a statistical conundrum can develop. Our aim is to provide a range of numeracy and statistical support opportunities that all students can access.

Much research reveals that students often prefer receiving support from their peers; as they can feel intimidated about asking for help from academic staff.  In all our research methods modules we deploy final year students (called Data Buddies) to work in lab, alongside tutors, offering peer support to students. The Data Buddies applied for the position, are paid and receive training before going into lab sessions.  Feedback from staff and students alike is that the Data Buddies do a fantastic job! The Data Buddies also help us to run an ambitious additional support programme for students via Pop-Up labs that we run during assessment weeks; last term we provided over fifteen hours of additional lab support for students working on their quantitative reports. 

The Maths Café supports numeracy across MMU offering daily peer support to our students.  The Q-Step centre works with the University to implement its ambitious Numeracy Support Strategy, which launched this academic year.  Seeking to support student success within STEM subjects, specifically with their numeracy skills, this project works across four faculties and reaches out to over two thousand students.  MMU is one of the few universities to implement a cross-disciplinary numeracy support scheme, recognising the importance of numeracy not just within subjects but also as a vital career-ready skill.  This scheme involves many of the support mechanisms first developed by the Q-Step team, such as Data Buddies and Pop-Up support; the University scheme employs over thirty Data Buddies that work across four faculties, both within class sessions and servicing the pop-up Math cafes that operate on campus. 

Embedding Statistical Literacy

Much research has demonstrated that one of the reasons students struggle with quantitative methods is because most QM is found in standalone research methods modules and students rarely have opportunities to develop or practice such skills in their wider studies. A bit like being taught how to drive and understanding the basics without actually taking the car out regularly; without the practice you would never become a confident driver.  One solution to this problem is to embed QM within non-research methods modules; so students can see QM in broader contexts and possibly see their greater relevance. Often, the lack of QM in the wider curriculum makes students think QM is not an important part of Sociology. Embedding involves staff doing a range of activities, including, using quantitative data and concepts, examples and so forth. The MMU Q-Step centre is working with colleagues in Sociology to embed QM across fifteen modules this year; ranging from one off themed QM classes, to a series of QM topics within a lecture series. Our ambition is to embed QM across the majority of our modules by the end of the project.