QuIRK's Keck Project

Project Abstract

Carleton's interdisciplinary and innovative Quantitative Inquiry, Reasoning, and Knowledge (QuIRK) initiative aspires to change campus culture by raising the community's appreciation for quantitative reasoning (QR) as a valuable intellectual skill and practice. Despite experts' recommendations that effective QR programming must require students to apply skills in diverse contexts, most QR programs are sequestered in a corner of the curriculum because many faculty members remain unconvinced of QR's relevance to their students. With previous support from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (U.S. Department of Education), QuIRK has already completed a pilot project that has attracted significant Carleton faculty participation from less-quantitative departments by emphasizing the rhetorical aspects of QR in student writing. We propose to complete the cultural change by implementing fully our writing-centered model, encouraging curricular revision through best-practice workshops and course-revision grants, and implementing a student statistics fellowship program whose participants will support faculty pursuing new quantitative directions in teaching and scholarship.

If you are interested in seeing the full Keck proposal, contact Greg Marfleet (QuIRK Co-Director) by email: gmarflee@carleton.edu

Project Activities

Project activities directly supported by the Keck grant. (QuIRK has carried out many other activities with support from FIPSE, the NSF, Carleton College, and other sources. The full scope of the initiative is documented elsewhere on the website. This partial list documents only activities directly related to the Keck grant.)

  • New Teaching Materials

    • New courses developed summer 2008:
      • Modern Architecture, Baird Jarman (Art and Art History)
    • Course revisions being completed summer 2008:
      • Linguistics of the Japanese Writing System, Mike Flynn (Linguistics)
      • Cultural Reading, Christine Lac (French and Francophone Studies)
      • Contemporary Native American Literature, Sun Hee Lee (English and American Studies)
      • Introduction to American Studies, Sun Hee Lee (English and American Studies)
      • Postcolonial South Asia, Parna Sengupta (History)
      • American Environmental History, George Vrtis (Environmental and Technology Studies and History)
  • Faculty Aided by Student Statistics Fellows

    • Barb Allen (Political Science) and Greg Marfleet (Political Science)
      RAs: Aaron Cross, Andy Rooks, Carmen Ross, and Bassirou Sarr
      This project was part of an ongoing data collection effort extending back to the 2000 presidential election which examines the content of local political news. RAs worked on several aspects of this project including completing and checking data entry for material collected in 2004 and conducting reliability tests on this data. A substantial amount of the summer RA effort was dedicated to creating and testing a system to record several news channels and to create a streaming video server that would allow students to watch and content analyze news during the Fall 2008 election period. RAs installed hardware to digitally record news stories, set up a recording schedule, and programmed software that built the streaming server as well as a web-based data entry tool. The data will be generated, and then analyzed, by students in four courses related to political communication, research methods and political psychology conducted during the 2008 fall term and 2009 winter terms. Students will have access to news, survey and focus group data from 3 presidential elections (2000, 2004 and 2008).

    • Adriana Estill (English)
      RAs: Trevor Burnham and Shannon Carcelli
      This project supported new assignments in the Introduction to Latino/Latina Studies. In a previous iteration, students were asked to write papers based on an examination of a Census Bureau summary table. The RAs worked with the underlying Census data to provide additional background information for students to consider in their work. In particular, the RAs looked at issues surrounding the changes in racial categories that were instituted in the 2000 census. In particular, respondents were allowed for the first time to choose more than one racial category. This was especially important as many citizens identifies in prior censuses as "Hispanic" objected to that terminology.

    • Nathan Grawe (Economics)
      RA: Carmen Ross
      This project involved the location and retrieval of National Head Start Data containing information on child enrollment and fiscal contribution by state per year back to 1969. This effort resulted in a complete dataset extending back to 1987 which Professor Grawe will combine with Census data on male incomes and state of birth to study the effects of pre-school quality and intergenerational mobility.

    • Susannah Ottaway (History)
      RAs: Keith Carr-Lee, Kevin Draper, and Andy Rooks
      This project involved collecting archival, primary source data on the demographics characteristics of 'Poor Houses' residents in late 17th and early 18th century England. These records were entered into a database that will be used for instructional presentations and for student exploration in the classroom. The RAs used statistical and graphical techniques to identify patterns in the data for the Professor to use as examples in class. The dataset also serves as a means to preserve, in electronic form, a record material that heretofore existed solely as one-, or two-hundred year old hand-written log books.

    • Harry Williams (History)
      RAs: Kevin Draper and Andy Rooks
      This project developed a quantitatively rich case study of crime in Richmond, Virginia. RAs geo-coded crime density for Richmond using police report data and GIS software for mapping. These map which were incorporated into the instructional material, display crime frequency information in a gradient which overlaid with the locations of police stations, public housing developments and community centers to show the relationship between crime and public services. In addition RAs collected data to study the causes of violent and property crimes for sample of cities across the country. They compiled US census data and contributed preliminary regressions analyses for the case materials and in-class presentation. The case study is intended for use in one of Professor Williams' classes in the spring of 2008.

    • Carolyn Wong (Political Science)
      RA: Natalie Sheneman
      This project examined state immigration policy through roll call votes and is a follow-up to Dr. Wong's previous research, published in her book Lobbying for Inclusion: Rights Politics and the Making of Immigration Policy, which looked at immigration policy on the national level and the local characteristics that shaped congressional voting patterns. The RA's duties included compiling a dataset of state roll call votes on various immigration-related bills in seven states (AZ, CA, FL, IL, MN, NY, and TX). This data was merged with voting data with racial district demographics, and with data on industry contributions to legislators. After collection, the RA conducted statistical analyses of the data for use as an instructional tool for classes on immigration and politics and minority politics. This data collection is the first part of an on-going data building effort conducted in these classes that will also incorporate variables, such as foreign-born population and number of issue-related nonprofits per district.
  • Faculty Development Workshops

  • Campus Talks

  • Learning and Teaching Center Talks

    • "High Stakes Assessment and Higher Education," Lloyd Bond (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching), April 21, 2009
    • "Translating Principles of Learning into Practice: Creating an Integrated Curriculum," Claudia Neuhauser (University of Minnesota, Rochester), February 19, 2009
    • "How do we teach quantitative reasoning? Foster a curricular conspiracy," Deborah Hughes Hallett (University of Arizona and Harvard University), April 24, 2008
    • "Empirical methods in humanities research - and music in particular," Eric Clarke (Oxford University), April 8, 2008
    • "Weasel words: Using QR to teach precision in argumentation," Nathan Grawe, January 10, 2008
    • "Critical Thinking About Numbers in the News," Milo Schield (Augsburg College), October 2, 2007

A portion of the QuIRK initiative has been supported by a grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation. The contents of this portion of the web site were developed under this grant. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Foundation.