The College of New Jersey Context
1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus?
In Fall of 2006 the Quantitative Reasoning Advisory Committee (QRAC) was formed at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). The committee charges are:1) Establish guidelines for the submission of courses, programs, or equivalent sustained experiences meeting the QR requirement of the Liberal Learning Program. 2) Review QR proposals and recommend them to the Liberal Learning Program Council (LLPC) or return them to submitters with reasons for rejections and/or recommendations for improvement. 3) Work with departments and programs to refine and perfect proposals. 4) Review TCNJ goals and outcomes for QR,recommending to LLPC changes it sees fit. 5) Create guidelines for assessing existing and future QR courses, programs, or equivalent sustained experiences. Membership on QRAC consists of the College Assessment Officer, a representative of the Academic Affairs Office and faculty members representing five schools and six departments. They include School of Science: Mathematics and Statistics (2) Computer Science (1); School of Culture and Society: Psychology (1); School of Engineering: Electrical (1); School of the Arts and Communication: Art(1); and School of Education: Elementary/Math Science Technology (1).During Academic Year 2006-2007 the committee focused on four activities: 1) Review the current TCNJ QR Goals and Objectives. 2)Become familiar with National trends and activities in QR. 3) Begin to establish Policies and Procedures for the approval of new courses,program or other experiences that would allow students to meet the TCNJ QR requirements. In 2006 all student QR experiences were course based and all but one such course was offered by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Additionally, there was no mechanism in place to measure whether current course experiences were achieving stated goals and objectives. There were also no well-defined policies or procedures for adding to the existing QR experiences. QRAC devoted much of its work in academic year 2006-2007 addressing these two shortfalls. To begin, in developing a new approval process (3), a component was added to require inclusion of an assessment plan. By end-of-year, tentative guidelines and procedures were created and they were tested by committee members over summer 2007 on one existing QR course, one trial QR course, and one new and unoffered course that was seeking QR designation. The testing process was enlightening and led to a reworking of the guidelines during academic year 2007-2008, with final approval being received in spring 2008. Going into academic year2008-2009 QRAC has set a goal to heighten campus awareness of the importance of QR as an integral part or each student's academic experience. In particular, it will encourage the development of new QR experiences from departments other than the traditional ones. It will work with schools, departments, and programs to look at how QR is currently integrated into their curricula and investigate and suggest ways to make it more inclusive. In order to help achieve this goal, QRAC will sponsor workshops, bring in outside speakers, and use current topics of world and national interest as a way to attract interest and heighten awareness of the current state of QR at TCNJ and possible ways to expand its role. In fall 2008 the focus will be on topics related to the upcoming presidential election (e.g. voting, apportionment,etc.). During spring 2009 the focus will be on topics related be the world energy crisis (e.g. data on global warming, cost effectiveness of alternate sources of energy, etc.). TCNJ currently conducts ongoing assessment for each academic major. However, there is currently no formal assessment plan for the QR part of the Liberal Learning requirements. In conjunction with the activities noted above, QRAC will begin in Fall 2008 to study national trends and assessment plans used at other institutions and, by the end of Spring 2009, produce a draft plan for QR assessment at TCNJ.
2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve?
When QRAC was established, its members looked at the College's existing statement on goals and measurable outcomes for QR. That statement contained five measurable outcomes. These outcomes were used in the first draft of the new procedures established for the approval of new QR courses and experiences. During this test stage it was determined that the existing list of measurable outcomes were in need of improvement if there was to be any hope of effectively assessing them.QRAC began by producing a definition of what QR should be and then defined a single goal and three outcomes that could be effectively measured: Definition of Quantitative Reasoning at The College of New Jersey: The aim of courses in Quantitative Reasoning is to further students' knowledge and understanding of mathematical and quantitative modes of thought. Some courses emphasize theoretical aspects of mathematics or statistical reasoning. Other courses in this area explore the application of quantitative methods to questions in disciplines across the curriculum. Campus-wide Goal for Quantitative Reasoning at The College of New Jersey: Students will understand Quantitative Reasoning so they can respond effectively to claims deriving from quantitative arguments. Measurable Outcomes of Quantitative Reasoning at The College of New Jersey: Students will understand how real-world problems and social issues can be analyzed using the power and rigor of quantitative methods, while also learning to recognize and articulate the limitations of these methods. Students will be able to do all of the following: evaluate, interpret, and draw inferences from mathematical models such as algorithms, formulas,graphs and tables. Students will be able to use quantitative methods(such as algebra, geometry, statistics and computation) to solve problems.
3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so, please describe:
No, TCNJ currently has no QR assessment instruments in place.
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?
Over the past ten years TCNJ went through a process of "Transformative Change," involving a complete overhaul of degree requirements, academic major requirements, liberal learning requirements (formerly called general education), and student and faculty load. Resources in the form of a full-time Director of Writing and office support were provided for the development and assessment of the writing component of the curriculum. However, that was not the case for quantitative reasoning; it was left as part of the Natural Sciences and Quantitative Reasoning component of the liberal learning breadth requirement, but without specifically allocated resources. Challenges faced in developing and implementing an assessment plan for QR include: 1. Educate faculty and administrators in all disciplines about the importance of the role of QR in their programs. 2. Convince faculty that expending energy to assess achievement of the stated QR goals and outcomes is a worthwhile thing to do in addition to the things they are already doing. 3. Find resources to help support the assessment process.
5. Considering your campus culture, what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives?
The Quantitative Reasoning Advisory Committee was formed through faculty initiative. Its members recognize the importance of QR and the need to expend extra efforts to have others come to similar understandings.The College's administration has embraced these efforts by approving the establishment of QRAC and accepting its recommendations concerning changes to existing policy and procedures. Such support is expected to continue and grow. Perhaps the greatest assets are the recognition by the members of QRAC that QR is not owned by any one department or school, and that the continued dissemination of this message through activities, such as those planned for academic year 2008-2009, will help to promote campus-wide efforts to expand the role of QR across the entire TCNJ educational experience.