One of the problems faced by many Ph.D. and M.A. programs in the social sciences is how to prepare graduate students for the advanced mathematical and statistical concepts they will be using as part of their research and methods classes. Many graduate programs, including Duke, have a “math camp” to give them the necessary background to apply math concepts in ways they will be using them in their work.

However, students come to graduate studies with varying background and levels of interest in math. With only a short time available to get the students started – Duke’s math camp is only two weeks – how can faculty use this time most effectively?

David Siegel, a faculty member in Political Science, has prepared an online, self-paced video course that students can use before they arrive at Duke to ensure they understand basic concepts and the practical use of math in social science research so that the two week math camp can be used for more in-depth work and customized help for incoming graduate students.

Siegel prepared the video course using a check-out recording kit and consulting from the CIT over the past few months. Students can use a pdf syllabus containing links to over one hundred short videos that explain how to apply basic mathematical operations in Social Science, recognize and avoid pitfalls in applying mathematics and statistics in research work and attain the basic mathematical literacy required for published research. The online video lectures are accompanied by a textbook and online video problem sessions. Students can use exercises at the end of each textbook chapter and additional online problem sets for practice.

The course is being used by incoming Political Science graduate students this summer for a “flipped” version of Duke’s “math camp” when they arrive in the Fall. In addition to making the materials available online for use by other political science departments, Siegel is reaching out to faculty in other disciplines in which graduate math training is not uniform to adapt the online materials to include examples for those disciplines.

Siegel will assess student reactions to the videos and problems sets and the effectiveness of the “flipped” math camp this Fall.

Duke faculty interested in flipping their courses and exploring creative ways to solve student learning problems can contact the Center for Instructional Technology to talk about ideas and campus resources available for their instruction with a consultant.

SamMany thanks ! What is the impact of Mathematics in social science today?. That is to say, what are the mathematics that a social scientist is using and, from the point of view of a mathematician, what are the mathematics they should use more or start out using ?

Is there a theoretical result saying that it is possible (or impossible) to work out such a thing exactly (mathematically speaking)?