Minnesota State University–Moorhead Context
1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus?
At this time we do not have a specific quantitative reasoning program that is separate from our general education program. However, we are three years into our new general education program the "Dragon Core." This program is a signature curriculum providing a broad foundation of skills, information, and knowledge that go beyond students' chosen academic field. Students will learn to apply and extend foundational skills in written and oral communication, mathematics, and critical and multicultural thinking in an array of disciplinary areas, as they formulate their perspectives and explore their values. Through the Dragon Core experience, MSUM graduates will acquire:
*Skills to effectively communicate ideas orally, use written language effectively and ethically, think critically, use mathematical and logical modes of thinking, and develop information literacy.
*Knowledge of natural science principles and the methods of scientific inquiry the content of history and social sciences the human condition and cultures and skills and attitudes central to living in and contributing to a diverse world.
*Perspective to understand and appreciate the world's nations and peoples, the ethical dimensions of personal and political decisions, and the challenges of responding to environmental variables.
We have completed one year of assessment of the "Foundation Four" component of the program which includes writing, mathematics, oral communication, and critical and multicultural thinking. The mathematics assessment focused specifically on two means of assessment, final exams with open-ended questions and projects which were evaluated using a rubric constructed from the student learning outcomes for the area. Because this assessment was limited to first-year students, it is an assessment of the foundations of quantitative reasoning, and not the embedded execution. Additionally, it should be noted that the mathematics requirement has been changed to include a requirement for statistics material in mathematics.
2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve?
We have specific quantitative reasoning goals outlined as student learning outcomes in the mathematics/symbolic systems categories. This course is taken in the first year and has the outcomes of: *Determine whether arguments are valid.
*Solve real-life problems by using the principles of set theory.
*Make decisions regarding the possible events that are governed at least in part by chance.
*Apply the basic concepts of statistics, such as collecting data; drawing graphs; finding measures of average, variation and position; and solving problems using the standard normal distribution.
*Demonstrate understanding of selected concepts in logic, set theory probability and statistics by solving a real-life problem and communicating their work to the class orally and/or in writing.
In addition, in the area of Critical and Multicultural Thinking ,we add student learning outcomes relating the quantitative reasoning. Some of these are:
*Recognize and define the questions upon which a controversy depends.
*Distinguish arguments from non-arguments. (Note: Argument in this case being defined broadly to include logic, mathematical proofs, natural and social scientific reasoning, and media and other verbal and nonverbal messages.)
*Distinguish between fallacious and non-fallacious arguments.
*Distinguish between and use inductive and deductive reasoning.
*Formulate clearly and precisely a question or problem and generate alternative hypotheses or solutions to this problem, including solutions appropriate to the cultural context of the problem.
*Construct sound or cogent arguments of their own supported by data that are clear, accurate, and relevant.
We also add quantitative reasoning related competencies in the area of Natural Science with the goal: To improve students' understanding of natural science principles and of the methods of scientific inquiry. To instill an appreciation of the ongoing production and refinement of knowledge that is intrinsic to the scientific method. By studying the problems that engage scientists, students will comprehend the importance of science in past and current issues that societies confront. Students should be exposed to the contributions of multiple scientific disciplines. These competencies include:
*Demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method and of the relationship between hypotheses and theories.
*Recognize and define problems and formulate and test hypotheses using data collected by observation or experiment. One project must develop, in greater depth, students' laboratory or field experience in the collection of data, its quantitative and graphical analysis, its interpretation, its reporting, and an appreciation of its sources of error and uncertainty.
*Exhibit knowledge of the development and contributions of major scientific theories.
*Demonstrate knowledge of the concepts, principles, problems, and perspectives of one or more specific scientific disciplines.
*Consider societal issues from natural science perspectives, making informed judgments by assessing and evaluating scientific information.
And in History and the Social Sciences the goal is to increase students' knowledge of the content of history and the social sciences, and to increase their knowledge of how historians and social scientists discover, describe, and explain the behaviors and interactions among individuals, groups, institutions, events, and ideas. Such knowledge will better equip students to understand themselves and the roles they play in addressing the issues facing humanity.
This includes student competencies related to quantitative reasoning including the ability to:
*Describe social, scientific and/or historical approaches to understanding human behaviors.
*Understand appropriate methods to gather, analyze, and interpret data.
*Critically analyze objective information and subjective interpretations.
Finally, in the area of People and the Environment has the goal of developing students' understanding of the concept of sustainability and the challenges we face in responding to environmental variables and resolving environmental problems. Students will examine how societies and the natural environment are intimately related. A thorough understanding of ecosystems and the ways in which different groups interact with their environments is the foundation of an environmentally literate individual.
This includes student competencies related to quantitative reasoning including the ability to: *Explain the concept of sustainability.
*Identify the structure, function, and processes of ecosystems (ecosystems include environmental systems such as climatic, hydrologic, soils, social, and biological systems).
*Assess and analyze the environmental problems of a technological society using the framework of well-founded physical and biological principles.
*Describe the relationships between environments and socio-cultural groups, and identify how natural resource challenges are being addressed by the social, legal, economic, political, cultural, and religious systems within societies.
*Understand how socio-cultural variables affect the ways in which environments are perceived and managed, and the ways in which people or societies react to environmental challenges.
Finally, all students must fulfill a Writing Intensive requirement consisting of five courses with intensive writing. One is the first-year writing course one is in the general education curriculum at the 300 or 400-level one is an additional course in the general education program one is designated by the major at the 300 or 400-level and the final can be designated by the major at any level. All of these assignments may be used for assessing QR.
3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so, please describe:
We have the Foundation Four assessment process which took the final exams and projects from courses designed to fulfill the mathematics requirement and asked expert faculty to construct a rubric using the student learning outcomes to assess the artifacts. We are building assessment for the upper levels of the general education program at this time and expect to begin assessment of the Writing Intensive Program in the next year. This is an ideal time for us to explore pathways to assessing QR.
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 campus awareness regarding assessment has increased. A great deal of attention is being paid to the Voluntary System of Accountability of which we are early adopters. We are also involved in the "dashboard" for the MnSCU system and the need to assess student learning directly and indirectly. The challenges include finding time in busy faculty schedules to plan and implement assessment. We also need to increase funding for assessment to support faculty in pursuit of assessment. The barrier is not willingness - our faculty, especially our younger faculty, are very interested in assessment and in improving their teaching and curriculum through assessment.
5. Considering your campus culture, what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives?
We have recently added a second staff member in the Institutional Research office to support assessment. We have a half-time faculty member who is released to assist with assessment. The Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs has also held the position of Assistant Vice President of Assessment (a position that has been rolled into her current position). Because her background is assessment planning and implementation, she is very supportive of assessment.