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Introduction | Paper | Dates and places


The RCBN is undertaking a series of seminars around the UK intended to stimulate discussion and awareness of the relatively simple role of numbers in educational and, more specifically, teaching and learning research.

These seminars are flexible in length and structure, and can be tailored for different audiences. Such audiences might be practitioners, policy-makers and other consumers of research evidence.

They might be novice researchers including research students and fellows, researchers looking to extend their awareness of work involving numbers, or to combine numeric datasets into their existing work, or researchers who are critical of current work involving numbers. They might be the existing methods teachers and trainers in your institution, from whom feedback would be particularly valuable. Or, indeed a mixture of all of these.

The event could coincide with a departmental seminar, staff training day, or individual research project meetings.

The seminars will be organised and delivered by the TLRP Research Capacity Building Network with input from Professor Stephen Gorard, Professor Ken Prandy and Karen Roberts. This input will be tailored, but selected from a longer discussion paper that we would also make available to attendees (see below).

Role of Numbers Discussion Board
To join in further discussions about some of the issues raised in the Role of Numbers Seminars please visit the Role of Numbers Discussion Board. We hope that the discussion board will facilitate a continued discussion around a number of themes, such as the use of statistical tests on non-random datasets.

Are you interested in hosting such a seminar?
If you would be happy to host such an event (of perhaps two hours duration, but at your discretion), then please let us know by email (, or telephone (029 2087 5345). We would meet all incidental expenses involved, including provision of tea/coffee and biscuits. All we ask of you is a room for this to take place, and a willingness to advertise the session in your institution, and beyond in nearby HEIs, schools or colleges.

Are you interested in attending such a seminar?
The table below shows locations and dates for organised seminars. If you would like to come along to one of these seminars, please complete and return an RCBN Booking Form.


The paper includes the following sections:

  • The need for all researchers, indeed all concerned citizens, to be able to read and critique research involving numbers
  • A re-consideration of the nature of measurement, and of the danger of pseudo-measurement
  • The importance of proportionate reasoning
  • The rhetorical power of numbers
  • A variety of common situations in which numbers are misunderstood
  • How it is possible to overcome some of this misunderstanding by simple re-expression of problems
  • What a simple statistical test is used for
  • How the role of statistical tests has been exaggerated in traditional methods courses
  • High-quality data is more important than complex methods of analysis
  • The value of a narrative and numbers approach

For a copy of the paper that accompanies this seminar entitled 'An Introduction to the simple role of numbers in social science research' click here.


Dates and places

Place Date Time
School of Education, Middlesex University
22 January 2003
Curriculum, Evaluation and Management Centre (CEM Centre), University of Durham
29 January 2003
School of Education, UWIC
4 February 2003
Faculty of Education, Manchester University
7 February 2003
Oxford Brookes
12 February 2003
Institute of Education, Sussex University
20 February 2003
Faculty of Education, Canterbury Christ Church University College
25 February 2003
Institute for Education Policy Research (IEPR), Staffordshire University
5 March 2003
School of Education, Southampton University
7 March 2003
Institute of Education, University of London
7 March 2003
School of Education, Leicester University
Faculty of Education, UWE
City University, Northampton Square, London 20 October 2003 4.30pm - 6.00pm
Staffordshire University (for research students) 6-8 February 04 (date TBC) TBA


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This page was last updated 21st February 2004