Fairfield University Context
1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus? Quantitative Reasoning and what we would consider the related area of Data Analysis are programmatic leve learning objectives in our College of Arts and Sciences, Dolan School of Business and School of Engineering. However, the School of Engineering has done explicit assessment of students' QR and data analysis schools to date. The School of Business will probably approach this learning objective one year hence. Within the curriculum there is a great deal of direct QR work that is specific and technical relative to the various disciplines. We have a core sciences project that is two years into its work and general QR is an explicit outcome and focus of its curriculum. We are in the process of developing a set of learning objectives for our core curriculum and this, coupled with the work in the core sciences, will form the foundation for quantitative reasoning assessment for all undergraduate students.
2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve? As noted above, we have diverse programs in the various schools. The core sciences and University core curriculum hope to develop students who have the generalized ability to interpret data, find data to support and refute claims, and represent data graphically. We hope, with the help of this workshop, to be able to bring back a strategy for infusing a wider variety of disciplines with QR and data analysis objectives and assessment.
3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so, please describe: At present only the School of Engineering assesses students directly on their data management skills. There are two traits on a rubric that focus on the collection and critical use of data in performing experiments. As of this writing, I am not aware of any other program that has yet attempted to assess QR directly, though the Dolan School of Business is expected to next year.
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 professional schools all have an openness to assessment and a willingness to do the work. They are also very motivated to ensure their students are competent in their fields. Our College of Arts & Sciences faculty certainly share the motivation to ensure their students are competent but are less enthusiastic about assessment. The implementation of a formal assessment program in the College is now 3 years in the making and we have made significant progress in developing pilot assessment programs. I think for a number of disciplines in the College, assessing QR will be a rich experience and one that will capture their interest, judging anyway from my experience with Prof. Grawe's workshop.
5. Considering your campus culture, what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives? The single most important asset that Fairfield University has in assessment is the Eidos Online Course Management & Assessment System. This is a course management system built at Fairfield and designed from the ground up to manage assessment. It is designed to archive student work electronically and link that student work to programmatically defined learning objectives. The system can then sample (randomly) that work from any course and has the capacity to build and apply rubrics electronically to assess that work. We have archived 50 000 student artifacts in three years of operation of the system. Eidos is designed to manage the logistical burdens of collecting student artifacts, sampling them, distributing them, and evaluating them with rubrics. This allows instructors to focus on pedagogy, not on logistics. Eidos also has the capacity built in to do classroom assessment where instructors can design their own rubrics and apply them in grading, while the database can summarize results across all students to provide instant assessment feedback on student performance. Another asset is a Strategic Plan that is focusing one of its goals on the Integration of the Core Curriculum. This project has full institutional support and involves faculty from all our schools, not just the liberal arts disciplines that teach core courses. We are in the process presently of developing and vetting a new set of learning objectives for an integrated core. This QR workshop will provide an opportunity for us to reflect explicitly on how QR fits into the core curriculum. A third asset is that we have just hired a first time director of freshman writing. She will start in September (we hope she can attend the workshop but she has been abroad and out of communication for the month of July). We hope to be able to leverage the work in the freshman writing courses to both advance QR and its assessment.