Quantitative Reasoning

11.220 Quantitative Reasoning & Statistical Methods for Planners I (2015)

Human Beings are not Statistically Intuitive. People use "narratives" as the primary thinking and communication instruments. More true is this for planners! But combining it with the language of statistics empowers everyone. We empathize dearly with students who find statistics difficult--and this is precisely the reason for a class dedicated to it.

Many, if not most, planners work with quantitative data. Some summarize, analyze, and present data they have collected themselves or have obtained from secondary sources; others must review quantitative analyses and assess the validity of arguments made therein. This course is designed to prepare you to critically review analyses prepared by others, as well as to conduct basic statistical analysis of data yourself.

From the Statistical Logic to the Planning Logic. We redesign the class to be the “Case-based QR” by packaging the statistical material in six planning contexts: 

  • India Slum and Informality
  • European Infrastructure Financing (optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation)
  • African Education (program evaluation, policy design)
  • Climate Change and Cities (resilience)
  • What's in a House Price? (Tax Capitalization)
  • Natural Resources Protection

which start with the planning questions, explain in these particular contexts QR can be the most fitting approach, and naturally embrace the statistical concepts within. Using these examples of quantitative analyses related to the planning profession, you will become familiar with a variety of tools for describing and comparing sets of data, as well as those used to generate estimates and test hypotheses. The course also emphasizes the development of sound arguments and research design, such that students appreciate both the power and limits of quantitative analysis in argumentation.