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Foundations of quantitative methods

Despite the experiences many people had in high school and college math, everyone can learn and work with the foundations of quantitative methods. There are a handful of core concepts from math that are critical to being able to engage with data. Here are some of our favourite resources, examples, and scholars prepared to help introduce you to these topics.

Aug 03, 2021

 Basic Arithmetic 

Resource:Arithmetic – Lessons and Resources ( 

Type: Series of webpages 

Who it’s for:Anyone looking for a refresher on arithmetic and basic operations with numbers 

Why we love it:This is a no-nonsense (and well-organized) resource that makes it easy to find a quick and simple explanation of the concepts you may need a refresher for. Topics covered include numbers, fractions, decimals, exponents, scientific notation, integers, percentages, proportions, and word problems. 


Resource:Math Refreshers – Quantitative Skills Center (University of Washington, Bothell) 

Type: Worksheets and links to explainers 

Who it’s for:Students trying to brush up on mathematics to take on exciting quantitative challenges 

Why we love it:The main challenges undergraduate and graduate students face with respect to basic arithmetic and algebra are addressed head-on. In addition, links to several additional, high-quality math resources are provided. Topics covered include an algebra refresher, a trigonometry refreshers, math-related websites and links, and resources to help learners improve their approach to math and combat math anxiety.  

Resource:Virtual Math Lab (West Texas A&M University) 

Type: Online tutorials and practice problems 

Who it’s for:Anyone looking for help with the basics of algebra all the way to college-level algebra topics 

Why we love it:The explanations and example problems are great for solidifying understanding, and the in-depth index helps you learn about the precise topic you are interested in. A large range of topics are covered. 

Mean, Median, and Mode

Mean, median, and mode are different ways of measuring the ‘centre’ of a numerical data set. These may seem like simple concepts, but they can tell you a lot about a dataset, and understanding their calculation is key to further quantitative work.


Resource: Measuring center in quantitative data (Khan Academy)

Type: Multimedia tutorial

Who it’s for: Anyone with an understanding of basic arithmetic

Why we love it: This tutorial provides videos, articles, and interactive practice problems that will help ensure you understanding how and when to use different measures of centre.


Resource: Central Tendency: Mean, Median, Mode (Introduction to Applied Statistics for Psychology Students – University of Saskatchewan Open Press)

Type: Textbook chapter 

Who it’s for: Learners with an understanding of basic arithmetic and who are comfortable with mathematical notation

Why we love it: This resource will introduce to the notation for presenting and calculating mean, median, and mode that you are likely to encounter in social science research. The mathematical notation and Greek letters may be a bit intimidating at first, but the content is clearly presented, and all the symbols are explained.