Assessment Tools

Workshop Participants 08

The following assessment tools were discussed to varying degrees over the course of the workshop.

Carleton College QuIRK Rubric

The Quantitative Inquiry, Reasoning, and Knowledge (QuIRK) rubric assesses the use and quality of QR in written arguments. The rubric is designed for application to student writing in the general education curriculum, but might be adapted for application in other contexts.

The rubric has been tested and revised at Carleton to assure strong inter-rater reliability. In the next two years, the tool will be implemented in feasibility studies at four other institutions (Iowa State University, Morehouse College, Seattle Central Community College, and Wellesley College) to learn how the rubric might be adapted for broad dissemination.

More information:

Contact: Nathan Grawe (

James Madison University Quantitative Reasoning Test

JMU's Quantitative Reasoning Test is a multiple-choice test. It is designed to assess QR at the general education level. In particular, the test is intended to measure two learning objectives:
1. Use graphical, symbolic, and numerical methods to analyze, organize, and interpret natural phenomena.
2. Discriminate between association and causation, and identify the types of evidence used to establish causation.

The test has been extensively tested and revised to explore and describe reliability and validity evidence.

The 2008 test manual is available for download online.

Macalester Learning Assessment

The Macalester Learning Assessment is a mixed test including both multiple choice and open-ended essay questions.It covers both content knowledge (e.g. "What is the typical recommended dietary intake for an adult?") and reasoning ability (e.g. a prompt asking the student to argue for a distribution of $100 billion between three possible government programs).It is intended to be taken by students at the beginning of first year, at the end of sophomore year, and at the end of senior year to track longitudinal growth.

Tes trevision and development is ongoing.

More information:

Contact:Nancy Bostrom (

2008 Statistical Literacy Skills Survey

Designed by Milo Schield (Augsburg College), the Statistical Literacy Skills Survey is a 69-question, multiple-choice test designed to study students' abilities to read "statistics commonly encountered in the everyday media." In addition to testing for graph- and table-reading skills commonly associated with QR, the Statistical Literacy Skills Survey also explores student understanding of the numeracy needed by journalists, possible sources of bias and the social construction of statistics.

In initial testing, the instrument has a 0.71 Cronbach Alpha.

More information:

Contact: Milo Schield (

Bernie Madison's Pre- and Post- QR Course Skills Test

Developed by Bernie to test QR skill gains over the course of his quantitative reasoning class, this tool examines basic computations, graph reading, and QR attitudes. The test items were intentionally chosen to cover items not directly addressed in the course to discern whether students are able to transfer skills from one domain to another. To provide an incentive to take the test seriously, Bernie allows students to earn bonus points to the semester grade through high achievement on the test.

Contact: Bernie Madison (

Collegiate Learning Assessment

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) asks students to take three critical thinking tests. One of these, the "Performance Task," contains a series of prompts which ask for short essay response. While not all performance tasks include quantitative information, most do. And the kinds of critical thinking skills involved (e.g. distinction between association and causation) seem to reflect common QR learning goals. The designers of the instrument stress that it is useful for assessment at the institutional level-not at the individual student level.

The biggest advantage of using the CLA is the large number of institutions that have employed the tool. (A document now almost one year out of date cites 210 different participating institutions.) Perhaps the biggest disadvantage is that the test does not claim to say anything about QR performance. And the test designers have indicated that they do not intend in the future to distinguish critical thinking broadly from constituent parts such as QR.

More information:

Contact: Chris Jackson (