Dakota Wesleyan University
1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus?
We do not have a designated Quantitative Reasoning program as such on campus. However, we have very intentionally built quantitative reasoning into our general education program. Most of our students take either MTH 115, Mathematics for the Liberal Arts, or MTH 125, College Algebra, to fulfill their Quantitative Reasoning component under the Critical and Collaborative Thinking Pillar of our general education program. This is one of five pillars in our new general education program, instituted in the fall of 2009, and includes the following student learning outcomes:
1. Demonstrate individual and collaborative problem solving skills.
2. Access, critique the validity of, evaluate the relevance of, and synthesize information related to a given problem or issue.
MTH 125 uses a book authored by Michael Catalano, one of the team members in this application. The book and the associated course have been explicitly designed to incorporate quantitative reasoning (or quantitative literacy) themes. This text was the subject of an article appearing in the National Numeracy Network's journal Numeracy: Advancing Education in Quantitative Literacy and is featured as one of 18 Quantitative Literacy Projects on the NNN website.
This project did receive NSF funding under CCLI.
2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve?
In addition to the broader goals of our general education program noted above, the outcomes we hope to achieve through our mathematics general education offerings include:
* Helping students to see how academic ideas can be related to important contemporary life problems and issues.
* Insuring that students have skills in basic quantitative analysis.
* Helping students to develop skills in individual and collaborative problem-solving.
Outcomes for MTH 115 include:
1. Understand how mathematics is useful in society, including its role in a variety of career field disciplines.
2. Be able to use mathematics to solve the traveling salesman problem and other similar problems.
3. Be able to use the basic concepts of statistics when analyzing data.
4. Be able to recognize and articulate the strengths and weaknesses of data based on the methods used to collect it.
5. Understand how data sets may be summarized by means of mathematical methods, and to understand the strengths and weaknesses of these methods (five number summary, types of graphs, etc.)
6. Develop a sense of the relative probability or frequency of events.
7. Be able to comprehend common savings and loan models.
8. Discover how mathematics can be applied to an area of specific interest to the student.
Outcomes for MTH 125 include:
1. Students should improve their ability to interpret, analyze, and create quantitative and graphical of information, including the appropriate use of graphing technology.
2. Students should understand the concept of function, and the basic characteristics of several families of functions including linear, exponential, logarithmic, power, quadratic, logistic, and normal functions and their aunts and uncles.
3. Students should understand the concept of mathematical modeling, and be able to interpret and create models using the families of functions mentioned above.
4. Students should gain an appreciation for and understanding of how quantitative information and algebraic techniques can be used to gain insight into real-world situations including social issues, and to help inform recommendations for action.
5. Students should gain facility in using technology to model and solve real-world problems.
6. Students should gain facility in working with data, using both descriptive and numerical techniques.
7. Students should understand some basic concepts of probability and statistics, including basic counting principles, equally likely outcomes, theoretical versus empirical probabilities, independence of events, conditional probability, sampling, margins of error, mean and median, and regression.
3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so; please describe:
I would describe our current assessment of QR as rudimentary. As part of our NSF evaluation activities, we did some evaluation of student performance on a small number of QR-related test items and this has continued after the grant period. One of the reasons for our attending this workshop is to find efficient ways to do more robust assessment.
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 culture is very supportive of assessment activities. Subsequent to our 2007 HLC Accreditation visit, we were asked to do a follow-up report on assessment. The Assessment Committee, newly formed and institutionalized during the accreditation process, has been very active in promoting a culture of assessment on campus, including the implementation of Personal Electronic Portfolios for students. We should also note that the new general education program was developed in part as a response to our 2007 accreditation visit. As at many institutions, the principal barrier is faculty time for developing and implementing assessment activities.
5. Considering your campus culture; what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives?
The Assessment Committee is willing to assist faculty members in their departmental assessment activities. Assessment will also be on the agenda for the General Education Committee in the near future, as we develop tools to assess the new program. In addition, as an institution, we do administer the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) every two or three years. This survey does provide some data on how students view their education, including their general education experience. Funds for additional assessmenet activities are sometimes available through the Provost's Office.