Augsburg College Context
1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus?
Quantitative Reasoning is a required graduation skill for all students at Augsburg College. Students need to take a Quantitative Foundations (QF) course (which teaches basic and foundational quantitative reasoning skills) and a Quantitative Applications (QA) course (which includes a significant project requiring students to apply their quantitative reasoning skills) OR a Quantitative Foundations and Applications (QFA) course (which does both). These courses are housed in departments and delivered, preferably, to students within their major course of study.
Full implementation of this program is not yet complete. It began as part of the transition to Augsburg's new general education program in 2003 but it has been the most difficult of pieces to put into place; it has also been a source of concern and anxiety for many on campus. What follows is an excerpt of a letter sent from the (new) Director of General Education to the faculty this spring.
Dear Augsburg Faculty and Undergraduate Advisors: Beginning this fall (2008) a new plan for delivering Graduation Skills will become effective for all students. The Graduation Skills (critical thinking, writing speaking, and quantitative reasoning) in most cases will be taught and developed in courses required for majors. This news is exciting! The vision for linking graduation skills more closely to disciplines, departments and majors has been in place since the current general education program - Augcore - was approved in 2002 and implemented in 2003. But it was a big undertaking and has required time to put in place. The benefits will make the wait worthwhile. Students will have more opportunities to hone these important skills and will be able to practice them in relationship to disciplinary content that is of their own choosing and interest. These benefits will strengthen students' disciplinary perspectives and skills of inquiry, and simultaneously better equip them to engage in lively and productive interdisciplinary work. Faculty will have new opportunities to work collaboratively with departmental colleagues and discover how increased attention to skills development and pedagogy enhances classroom experiences for students and faculty alike. The AugCore plays a critical role in helping the entire Augsburg community focus on essential elements and goals of the mission and vision of the college. This change is no exception. I hope the answers to the FAQs that follow are useful. Frequently Asked Questions: How are the Graduation Skills delivered? Beginning Fall Semester/Fall Trimester 2008 ,Graduation Skills will fall under the purview of departments. The delivery of these skills varies slightly from department (or major) to department (or major). All students who entered the college prior to Fall 2008 will not need to take additional courses to satisfy graduation skills if they have previously satisfied a skill requirement. For example if a student has taken a previously designated speaking skill course but now their major requires a different course to satisfy the speaking skill the student will not need to take the new course (unless the course is required for the major). If students have not previously fulfilled a skill, they will satisfy that skill with the new requirements. Departments will need to work closely with students to ensure that students are not adversely affected during this transition period. The general parameters for satisfying graduation skills under the new plan are as follows: Quantitative Reasoning has two components: foundational skills and the application of those skills. Courses in which foundational quantitative reasoning skills are taught have a QF designation. Courses that contain an embedded project in which students apply and practice those foundational skills have a QA designation. A few courses that provide both foundational skills and an application project have a QFA designation. MPG 3 (Math Placement Group 3) is a prerequisite for all QF and QFA courses. Departments will designate one required course with a QF designation and one required course with a QA designation (departments may also designate a list of QF or QA courses - inside or outside the major - from which students can choose). Many courses with the QA designation are available only to students in that department/major and not for general registration. If you are not sure, check with the department offering the course. OR, departments may require a QFA course outside or inside its major. A few departments are still developing QA or QFA courses. Students who are graduating next year who do not have access to a QA or QFA course may fulfill the quantitative reasoning requirement by taking one QF course, which is in keeping with the previous QR requirement.
What support will General Education provide for departmental work on matters related to Graduation Skills? The General Education 08-09 budget includes funds for departments to spend time developing courses and/or assignments that will meet the needs of students' skills development. You are welcome to spend a long afternoon on campus or consider an off-campus retreat center. These meetings might serve as opportunities to mentor adjuncts who are called on to teach these skills to invite colleagues from other departments to facilitate faculty development related to teaching speaking or writing critical thinking or quantitative reasoning or (and) to encourage departmental conversation about pedagogy and effective teaching strategies for both day students and adult students. A very simple form for requesting funds will be made available to each department. A workshop designed to provide advising help during this transition period will be offered several times during the early part of the fall semester. Given the importance of this work, I ask that all faculty attend one of these workshops. More information concerning the content and dates of these workshops will be provided later in the summer. Additionally, General Education will offer a series of workshops in the fall related to Quantitative Reasoning.
2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve?
Our summary of our current learning goals related to Quantitative Reasoning skill are as follows: Quantitative Reasoning This skill is achieved in a two-part process: learning in three foundational skill areas of which two must be in depth and learning in a mandatory significant quantitative reasoning application project. What We Expect from Students
1. At the foundational skill level, students are able to know and apply:
* Mathematical Relationships: graphical symbolic and numerical representations; proportions percents estimation
* Statistical Relationships: data analysis (including graphical analysis) elementary probability
* Algebraic Relationships: modeling functions algebraic representations
* Logical Analysis: deductive reasoning fallacies arguments counter examples
2. At the application project skill level, students are able to:
* recognize implicit and explicit quantitative claims in discourse and evaluate and test such claims critically
* pose quantitative questions (i.e. student-generated versus instructor-generated questions)
* make and communicate reasoned choices as to applicable quantitative methods for the questions/hypotheses posed and the data considered
* apply quantitative methods to quantitative information (i.e. to student generated data and/or existing data)
* use the results of applying quantitative methods to reason and articulate answers/conclusions to the questions/hypotheses posed
Curricular Options for Fulfilling the Skill: There are two options for a student (in a major): a separate Quantitative Reasoning Foundation (QF) course (requiring math placement level 3 and for some programs offered by another department as part of general education) and a separate Quantitative Reasoning Application (QA) course involving a significant quantitative reasoning project most likely to be taught in the major; or a course that does both (QFA) again most often in the major.
3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so, please describe:
No, we do not currently have QR assessment instruments at an institutional level in place. We have scheduled QR assessment in the long-term assessment plan; developing specific tools to carry out that plan is one of our goals for 200-2009.
4. Considering your campus culture, what challenges or barriers do you anticipate in implementing or extending practices to develop and assess QR programming on your campus?
The main challenge that remains on our campus with regard to QR is related to our institutional emphasis on departmental delivery of skills (QR in particular) and the appropriateness and/or ability of those in the humanities (for example) to do so. Additionally, the length of time (~6 years) it has taken to iron out the issues/questions/and opportunities related to QR in the current general education curriculum has left many people weary. We definitely need to be proactive in solving problems and ending this coming year in a place/way that feels settled, and maybe even allows people to feel energized by QR work. The campus culture around assessment is becoming increasingly positive as work in that area in the last two years, especially around areas of critical thinking and writing, has garnered meaningful professional development and useful results. Assessing our programs will not be the sticking point.
5. Considering your campus culture, what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives?
We have great resources in our college personnel to support our QR initiatives. We have great depth in the faculty in our math, physics, and business departments with a wealth of knowledge and interest in working on QR matters. We have scientists working collaboratively with artists to provide opportunities for students in all the Fine Arts to develop their QR skills. We have nationally known scholars in statistical literacy. We have historians and journalists and even a theologian who are interested in and equipped to introduce humanities students to QR. (We do not have a great track record of having all these parties talk to each other. One of our goals for the coming year is to create opportunities for enhanced conversation and collaboration.)