Central Michigan University Context
1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus?
In 2004 CMU's Academic Senate created an ad hoc committee to evaluate our general education program and to recommend ways to improve it. In October 2006 the committee presented its recommendations, which included adding a quantitative reasoning requirement for all students in addition to the existing mathematics competency requirement. The Senate has been debating the recommendations for revising general education since then. During this time, a group within the Mathematics Department has worked to create a plan for implementing QR at CMU. This QR working group, the College of Science and Technology, and the various General Education committees have sought advice from QR experts including Corrinne Taylor (Wellesley College) and Karen Casto (Western Washington University) who have visited campus. In spring 2008 the QR working group presented a set of learning outcomes and an outline for a new course in QR to the Senate, which voted to add quantitative reasoning to the general education program. All students would have to take a course in QR or pass an exam demonstrating competency in QR. The exact nature of the course requirement and timeline for implementation have not been finalized but are likely to be determined in Fall 2008.
2.What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve?
The overarching goal is to enable students to establish a foundation of effective quantitative reasoning and problem solving strategies that: 1) is needed for the completion of their degree program of study, 2) will remain with them throughout life, and 3) is relevant in life activities of most citizens. The competency at CMU will teach students, using situations that appear in common life, the following abilities: 1. The ability to: a) represent quantitative information symbolically, visually, numerically, and verbally. b) interpret graphs, tables, and schematics and draw inferences from them. c) use number sense, arithmetic operations, and technology to describe, analyze, and assess real-world problems. d) utilize measurement to describe geometric, physical, and other quantities (such as weight, area, volume, time) for precision and accuracy. e) apply basic statistical concepts and basic data analysis to describe and interpret issues and draw valid conclusions. f) analyze and assess issues involving risk and chance using probability concepts. 2. The ability to apply QR skills and appropriate habits of mind to: a) formulate and analyze models to make predictions, draw conclusions, and judge the reasonableness of the results. b) estimate and check answers to quantitative problems in order to determine reasonableness, identify alternatives, and select optimal results. c) evaluate and create logical and quantitative arguments. d) communicate mathematical and statistical ideas to others.
3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so, please describe:
No assessment instruments are yet in place, but the following process has been proposed to the Senate by the General Education Council: 1. Each year, departments that offer QR courses must submit an assessment report to the General Education Subcommittee that indicates how the courses have met the established criteria and how students' competency has been assessed. 2. Each course will be reviewed every three years and will either be recertified or dropped from the general education program. 3. At the time of recertification. the General Education Subcommittee must certify that the course as a whole: a) included regular authentic assessments embedded in the course to monitor student learning according to all of the learning objectives, and b) made appropriate adjustments to course content and method, based on the outcomes of those assessments.
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?
CMU's lengthy Senate procedures and slow curricular approval process are likely to delay implementation of a QR requirement. We will need to garner resources to support faculty development related to the QR requirement, but this is part of a larger package of faculty development needed to improve general education and is being considered. Many students will likely take the competency course developed by the Mathematics Department, but we would like other departments to create courses that meet the QR learning objectives with applications in other disciplines. We do not anticipate significant barriers to assessment because CMU has a well-developed assessment policy. While not embraced by all members of the faculty, assessment is accepted as a routine activity by most departments and programs.
5.Considering your campus culture, what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives?
CMU has policies and support personnel in place to advance the QR initiative. The General Education Council (a faculty committee that reports to the Senate) is charged with assessing general education and will develop policies and procedures for assessing the new QR requirement. This committee will be able to draw on the expertise of our Assessment Council (another faculty committee that works to help faculty comply with our outcomes assessment policy). The Office of Curriculum and Assessment, housed in Academic Affairs, has full-time personnel dedicated to assisting faculty, departments, and program directors conduct effective assessment. CMU's Faculty Center for Innovative Teaching is an important resource that can provide both curricular development and faculty development for the new program. The faculty QR working group in the Mathematics Department has learned much about QR over the past few years and has shared their findings and enthusiasm to foster interest in and understanding of QR across campus.