1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus?
The campus has adopted a mission statement for quantitative literacy, which is one of the three proficiencies within our liberal education program. All students take a MATH course, most of which have been modified as QL courses. We have held two 4-day workshops, supported by NSF DUE 0633133, in which Colby-Sawyer faculty in many disciplines have designed classroom activities that strengthen QL in their courses. More than one third of our current faculty members have attended one of these workshops. We have a QL steering committee consisting of members from five of eight departments. We collaborate with other initiatives to promote and invigorate the QL initiative on campus. We recently received an NSF supplementary grant to the above one to organize two faculty development workshops on Sustainability and QL.
2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve?
Our mission statement states that the quantitative literacy proficiency is fulfilled by a variety of mathematics courses and teaches students the necessary skills to understand and use quantitative information in their personal and professional lives. The ability to display quantitative information is also an effective communication skill. Skills acquired in the quantitative literacy proficiency course in mathematics are reinforced through our program to enhance quantitative literacy across the curriculum. This goal is further described by the following objectives and skills:
1. Apply basic arithmetical, algebraic and geometric tools in everyday settings and distinguish between the appropriate and inappropriate uses of numerical information
a. Perform basic arithmetic: fractions, decimals, percentages, unit conversion, scientific notation.
b. Be familiar with the use and misuse of numbers in the real world.
c. Be proficient at estimation.
d. Perform basic algebraic and symbolic manipulations, i.e. solving equations.
e. Use geometric concepts to solve problems, i.e. length, height, perimeter, area, volume.
2. Use inductive and deductive reasoning and understand fallacies in logic.
a. Analyze a logical argument and its premises
b. Detect fallacies in logic
3. Understand, and use descriptive statistics and graphical displays.
4. Use reasoning to develop and test hypotheses and to draw inferences and make well reasoned decisions from collected data.
5. Improve student's attitude toward and confidence in using quantitative tools
3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so; please describe:
We directed our assessment efforts into three areas, the assessment of:
Students: We have designed three assessment tools. The first tool is a basic skills test of 25 multiple choice questions covering the skills included in the first four outcomes in the table above. These questions range from simple mathematical manipulations, such as adding fractions, to ones that use those manipulations in context. The second tool is a QL skills test, also 25 multiple choice questions, that assesses whether students can apply basic skills to solve problems. Finally, there is an attitude survey that measures five attributes of quantitative learning: self confidence, anxiety, value, enjoyment, and motivation. This survey consists of 20 questions, half given before the two skills tests and the other half at the end of the testing session. All first year students take these tests during orientation and most seniors take the same test during their capstone course. We also intend to assess QL as a habit of mind by reviewing a sample of senior's liberal education portfolios, but have not had the time to carry this out. Budget and time pressures might prevent some of these things from happening.
Faculty: Besides the assessment of faculty development workshops, we used a survey to evaluate the effect of our QL initiative on faculty and the curriculum. This provides us a rough assessment of the amount of QL that students encounter.
Curriculum: Sampling of the course syllabi which was done on August 2007, and will be done again in Fall 2010.
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?
There is limited space in our curriculum to add new course requirements, so we need to integrate QL into existing courses within the curriculum. To do so, we need to give more support to faculty and students, in and outside of class. It will be ideal if we can create a QL center as part of Academic Development Center and/or Teaching Enrichment Center and assign QL working group faculty members as rotating directors for this center.
5. Considering your campus culture; what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives?
The president and academic vice president are very supportive of both QL and assessment. The faculty is generally very willing to consider adding QL content to their courses in all disciplines and to participate in workshops in which they develop classroom activities. The director of the Teaching Enrichment Center is also supportive and invites us to give a presentation on QL to new faculty each year to ensure that the commitment to QL continues.