Knox College Context
1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus? In May 2002 the Knox faculty voted to add a quantitative literacy (QL) requirement to the existing math proficiency requirement, making quantitative literacy one of the six "key competencies" in our (then) new graduation requirements. (We could easily have used QR rather than QL.) Departments subsequently petitioned the Curriculum Committee to designate qualified courses as QL courses. In addition, faculty members from economics, mathematics and psychology developed Statistics 200, a non-calculus gen-ed statistics course to replace disciplinary-based introductory stat courses, Math 160, Psyc 281, and Econ 257. Stat 200 satisfies the QL key competency regardless of a student's major and serves as the prerequisite course for the discipline specific multivariate statistics courses, Psyc 282 and Econ 258. Multiple sections of the course now serve over 200 students per year, far exceeding the numbers required to take it. At this time additional departments are discussing requiring majors to take Stat 200 and to help staff additional sections. Quoted from the Knox College Catalog (p. 20): "All students must demonstrate both proficiency in elementary mathematics and quantitative literacy. Proficiency in elementary mathematics is demonstrated by satisfying one of the following: 1. Obtaining a score of 24 or above on the ACT math component, 2. Obtaining a score of 570 or above on the SAT Level 1 math component, 3. Completing a course in the mathematics department at the level of Math 121 or above, or completing CTL 120 or CTL 130 (offered by our Center for Teaching and Learning), 4. Passing a full-credit course with a grade of C or better at or above the level of College Algebra at another college or university. Quantitative literacy is demonstrated by passing a course designated by the Curriculum Committee as QL. The current list of QL courses appears below: Chemistry: 101, 102, 205, 321, Economics: 257, 258, 302, Mathematics: any course with the proviso that MATH 121 cannot be used to satisfy both proficiency and quantitative literacy, Physics: any course except 242, Psychology: 282, Statistics: 200. Notes: A passing grade in any mathematics course (with the exception of MATH 121, see above) will simultaneously satisfy both math proficiency and quantitative literacy. STAT 200 has math proficiency as a prerequisite, and so fulfills only quantitative literacy."
2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve? QL courses are offered in a variety of departments and specific learning goals vary according to those settings, which range from calculus, statistics (offered across disciplines), chemistry, economics, psychology and physics. Nevertheless, the Knox faculty embraced the general learning goals below when it voted in 2002 for the QL key competency. In short, every college graduate should be able to apply simple mathematical methods to the solution of real-world problems. A quantitatively literate college graduate should be able to: 1. Interpret mathematical models such as formulas, graphs, tables, and schematics, and draw inferences from them. 2. Represent mathematical information symbolically, visually, numerically, and verbally. 3. Use arithmetical, algebraic, geometric and statistical methods to solve problems. 4. Estimate and check answers to mathematical problems in order to determine reasonableness, identify alternatives, and select optimal results. 5. Recognize that mathematical and statistical methods have limits. From Quantitative Reasoning for College Graduates: A Complement to the Standards, a report produced by the Subcommittee on Quantitative Literacy Requirements of the MAA's Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics (CUPM).
3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so, please describe: Knox assesses math proficiency with either test scores or completion of designated courses. Further, we assess quantitative literacy (QL) by the satisfactory completion of designated QL courses. Realizing that course work completion falls short of what accrediting agencies, government agencies, and the public expect of assessment, several academic departments with Teagle grant support have begun to address systematic assessment of QR. Knox team members applying for this QR conference at Carleton include faculty from economics, ed studies, and mathematics, three of the departments participating in the Teagle project. The National Survey of Student Engagement samples Knox students. Some of the survey items give respondents a chance to self-assess the development of quantitative skills and quantitative reasoning, but academic departments have not regularly accessed NSSE results.
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? In 2002 the Knox faculty overwhelmingly supported adding the QL key competency to the math proficiency graduation requirement. Development of QR (or QL) courses at Knox does not seem to us to be a problem. Witness the popularity of Stat 200 across the student body and the interest shown by departments considering requiring it. The challenge at Knox is to improve QR assessment. Knox is in the process of developing a "culture of assessment." Particular challenges will be accommodating the different QR assessment tools developed and implemented by different academic departments while avoiding simple check lists, keeping assessment standards appropriately high, ensuring ease of administration and utility for guidance in enhancing student learning. What the Knox team learns at the Carleton conference will significantly inform the development of QR assessment at Knox.
5. Considering your campus culture, what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives? The campus wide awareness of the up coming North Central accreditation is helping to focus attention on assessment in general, including QR assessment. Several academic departments (anthropology and sociology, educational studies, and political science among others) are considering requiring methods courses with a greater emphasis on statistics. That interest may be harnessed to propel parallel initiatives in QR assessment in those departments. Finally, Knox faculty are as good colleagues ought to be, willing to work together to improve the academic program at Knox and methods of assessing how well that program is achieving our common goals. Knox College recently established an Office of Institutional Research and Assessment thanks to a 5-year $1.3 million dollar grant from the USDOE. The Director began work in July and we are now running a search for an Associate Director for Assessment. There will soon be a level of institutional support for assessment available to us that we have never had before.