To celebrate the Economic and Social Research Councils 50th anniversary, the Cardiff School of Social Sciences (SOCSI), Centre for Life Long Learning (LEARN) and Cardiff Q-Step held the World Full of Data Event. The event was attended by over 60 students and teachers from nearby Coleg Cymoedd, Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School, St David’s Sixth Form College and LEARN. The students are currently studying a variety of courses, including; Access to Science, BTEC Extended Diploma in Medical Science, A’ levels in psychology, geography and sociology, and also degree modules in Social Science as part of the LEARN pathways. Several students who attended are also enrolled on the Level-3 pilot scheme in social analytics course (http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/qstep/events/launch-of-the-level-3-pilot-scheme-in-social-analytics-24-september-2014/)
Dr Ian Jones (SOCSI) kicked off the day, discussing the importance of the ESRC, why we need data and also the relevance of critical thinking skills. This was followed up by Mr Rhys Jones (event organsier) who gave an overview of the ESRCs work, their values and purpose in society.
There were two streams of workshops on the day, with Dr Sara Jones (LEARN) engaging students in a live social science experiment. The minimal group paradigm experiment enabled students to reflect on in-group favouritism, and in particular discuss issues relating to prejudice. Several researchers and staff from SOCSI also facilitated the delivery of the session, including: Dr Ian Jones, Charlotte Brookfield, Matthew Abraham and Melissa Dickinson (Cardiff school of planning and geography). The session was well received, with students and teachers very much enjoying being part of an experiment.
Mr Rhys Jones (SOCSI and Cardiff Q-Step) led another stream of workshops introducing students to several statistical concepts, including; risk, representation of data, perception and reliability/validity. Students were asked to participate in a number of group activities, including matching events with probabilities, and also choosing a mythical creature to fight for them in battle (a patronus for the Harry Potter fans out there!). These activities helped students to think critically and realise there can be a great deal of uncertainty when analysing data, requiring critical analysis skills to make sensible conclusions. Several researchers from SOCSI facilitated the workshops, including: Grace Seeney and Nicholas Davies.
Students and teacher feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive, with many students mentioning the exciting and insightful nature of the topics covered. The aspirational environment of the University, and information from the speakers reflecting the need to work hard to gain good level-3 grades, led to several students stating how keen they are to study at Cardiff University. Sarah Werts, Senior Policy Manager from the ESRC, also attended the event, commenting on how impressed she was with the activities delivered to raise awareness of quantitative methods in the social sciences, and in particular to raise aspirations for these students. Events like this enable us to build even stronger links with local schools and colleges, with the aim to show students how exciting and inspiring a University education in the social sciences can be.
Information from last years event can be found here – http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/qstep/events/esrc-festival-of-social-science-why-quantitative-methods-novembner-2014/
For further information, or any questions relating to the event please contact: Rhys Jones – Lecturer in Quantitative Methods FE – firstname.lastname@example.org.