Quantitative Research Method Stephen Nelson

Mathematics has always had an important role in the analysis of historical events

Using statistical data allows historians to be able to predict outcomes and answer questions. It gives concrete data that can show connections and patterns. And it allows the educator to bring numeracy into the classroom to help students better understand the world around them.

Quantitative History was popularized in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Historians took the methods attributed to the social sciences and applies them to historical questions.

This historians moved away from the old research method that relied on records, others research, and historical writing.

History needed to be seen as more than just a sequence of historical events that seemed important.

Statistical data plays an important role in understanding the historical process. Because of this movement, History started to be seen as part of the social sciences. This new distinction challenged historians to search for patterns that would in turn lead to predictions to answer historical questions. And those predictions can be tested by exploring the data.

Humans struggle with many of the same issues and constraints throughout history. Quantitative analysis allows the historian to compare and contrast many different eras and regions. Historical data allows for us to see direct correlation with the past.

Many of the concerns with using statistical data to analyze history, stem from the lack of training historians in using and reviewing data. It takes more training to truly be able to make historical connections using numerical information.

This takes time and has not become a part of the techniques taught in many universities.

We live in an information age and today’s students need to be able to take in vast amounts of information and be able to understand and analyze it

There has been a nationwide push to teach numeracy across the curriculum. Students are asked to analyze data and solve problems.

The use of Quantitative History enables the educator to meet the goal of numeracy across the curriculum and help the kids see how important data can be.

A solid example of using quantitative history would be to look at immigration trends in America.

Immigration is a hot topic right now and throughout American History. Students can look at data and see that the Hispanic population has risen from one percent to eighteen percent since 1965.
Or see that immigrants today are much better educated than those fifty years ago.

In a worldwide example, educators can have students look closer at the Arab Spring. The students can study data that will help them understand the factors that led to destabilization.

They can look at the economic and cultural data from the region. This type of quantitative look at a major event would help students understand this complex historical event.

Using quantitative data works across the social sciences to help students gain a better understanding of the past. They can look at data to determine outcomes or make predictions. Educators are able to have students work with real world issues.
Students can gain a better understanding for today and our history. Students will be able to use political polling data, or analyze the growth of the national debt, and chart psychological disorders.
There are many methods to analyze history. Each having its own strengths and weaknesses. There is a place for each method when trying to figure out what happened. Quantitative History plays a major role in understanding not only the past, but the world around us.
It is important to be able to look at data and make predictions and see connections. It allows the historians to compare places and time periods. It also allows teachers to bring numeracy to the social sciences classroom.


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