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How Do I Choose the Best Quantitative Methods Course?

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  • Written By: E. Reeder
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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A quantitative methods course is designed to teach students how to use quantitative research methods in various academic fields. Courses in quantitative methods are usually offered at the university level to graduate students. The best courses employ multiple teaching methods, are relevant to the major field of study the student wishes to pursue, require the student taking the course to use the quantitative methods taught in the course in a real-life project or activity, and provide adequate access to the instructor or a tutor.

One way to choose the best quantitative methods course is to pick one in which the professor or instructor uses multiple teaching methods and quality teaching materials. Instructors in these courses will likely lecture, but they also should provide clear and concrete examples and allow opportunities for students to work together in small groups to figure out course concepts. Some instructors offer classes in person and some online class sessions or activities, because technology is such a large part of 21st century learning and research. A helpful textbook that clearly explains quantitative methods and is accompanied by appropriate instructional websites, a calculator and computer learning materials and programs is advisable. To find out if the instructor employs multiple teaching modalities and quality materials, it may be helpful to ask him or her, read the course syllabus, and talk to students who have already taken the class.

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It also is important in choosing the best quantitative methods course to select one within the major field of study being pursued. A master’s or doctoral degree program that requires research will usually require at least one course in quantitative methods. Given a choice, a student should choose the one the best fits his or her research interests and needs as well as career goals. For example, much different quantitative research methods will be used by those pursuing a degree in psychology compared to those studying sociology, biology or mathematics. Choosing the best course, therefore, should be specific to the academic area of interest.

If possible, when selecting a quantitative methods course, a student should choose one in which he or she will be required to carry out and present an actual research project or study using the methods taught in the course. Learning research methods from a textbook and reading examples of quantitative research studies is essential to becoming familiar with the techniques and course material. Actually using the methods to complete a research study, write about it and present it as an actual researcher would can be far more helpful. Such hands-on work can help a student gain a much deeper understanding of and appreciation for quantitative research methods.

One final way to choose the best quantitative research methods course is to choose one, if possible, in which the instructor is accessible in class, during office hours and by email or telephone in case questions arise concerning the course material. Some instructors also use tutors or graduate assistants who are available to provide assistance when needed. Having access to the instructor or a tutor and being able to ask questions and receive help when needed are good indications of a quality quantitative methods course.

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