‘A picture is worth ten thousand words’: a module to test the ‘visualization hypothesis’ in quantitative methods teaching

Inadequate quantitative methods (QM) training provision for undergraduate social science students in the United Kingdom is a well-known problem. This paper reports on the design, implementation and assessment of an induction module created to test the hypothesis that visualization helps students learn key statistical concepts. The induction module is a twelve-week compulsory unit taught to first year social science students at a UK university, which they complete prior to a more traditional statistical, workshop-based QM module. A component of the induction module focuses on the use of visualization through Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to teach the process of hypothesis generation to students while they also are introduced to the basics of QM research design and univariate and bivariate forms of data analysis. Self-reflexive evaluation indicates that visualization could assist students with more advanced QM statistical skills.