1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus?
At this point, institution-wide programming is largely informal. Many of the largest majors on campus (Psychology, Economics, Political Science, Biology) have a quantitative methods requirement, but we do not have a quantitative reasoning graduation requirement and have not engaged in faculty development in the area of QR. Even faculty members who teach quantitative methods report at least some dissatisfaction with their student's ability to interpret and use quantitative data effectively. Last spring, we discussed the possibility of adding a quantitative reasoning graduation requirement and dedicating resources to developing institutional capacities in its delivery. While we were unable to vote on that matter before the end of the academic year, some form of the measure is likely to come before the Academic Senate this year.
2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve?
1. The ability to recognize and evaluate quantitative claims we encounter or make ourselves.
2. A foundational knowledge in the methods of data analysis.
3. The ability to employ quantitative reasoning effectively in decision-making.
4. The ability to use quantitative reasoning persuasively and responsibly in constructing arguments.
3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so; please describe:
We have limited QR assessment in place. We checked with Institutional Research to determine what resources we had. They include:
1. Individual professors' grades on whatever QR assignments/tests they use in the classroom (note: these are not kept in any central location so accessing them would be problematic).
2. We routinely use the NSSE and it contains a question (at least it did in 2008) that asks "to what extent has your experience at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in (...) b. Analyzing Qualitative Problems"
3. The CIRP asks students to rate themselves "in comparison to the average person their age in terms of "Mathematical Ability."
4. We track GRE scores by subsection (including QR) for all graduates.
5. We have self-reported (and probably actual, from admissions) number of courses by subject area taken in high school
6. We have student transcript records that we could (but have not) code based on whether we thought particular courses are "quantitative."
7. As discussed above, we're considering instituting a QR graduation requirement.
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?
One of the most significant barriers is a tendency to think that developing our student's quantitative reasoning skills is someone else's business. Another is to treat it as a box to check off, as if student's exposure to statistics in one course equips them for life instead of recognizing that quantitative skills develop over time through practice. Third, attention to QR receives pushback in an environment of scarce resources. Some will question why we might have a QR requirement and not a language requirement, e.g., and this is driven in part from a recognition that requirements (should) hold implications for institutional priorities.
5. Considering your campus culture; what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives?
As an integral part of Carleton's innovative and effective work on quantitative reasoning during his time there, Beloit President Scott Bierman clearly cares and thinks deeply about how to enhance student's quantitative skills. Much of our curricular discussion over the past two years has focused on the need to improve the developmental aspects of learning, that is, how and where students develop and demonstrate different levels of performance regarding core skills, knowledge, values, and attitudes associated with the liberal arts. Finally, we have a critical mass of faculty who care about quantitative reasoning and/or are willing to engage in experimentation in their pedagogical approaches. This group includes a group in the sciences who have identified QR as a priority and the director of our writing program, who is interested generally in student's use of evidence and is comfortable with quantitative data himself.