Gustavus Adolphus College

1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus?

Quantitative reasoning is part of our core curriculum and also an integral part of many majors across campus. The distributive core curriculum was revised in 2005 and included a Mathematical and Logical Reasoning (MATHL) requirement. In the previous curriculum, students were required to take two courses in the natural sciences and mathematics of which one had to include a lab component. However, there was no specific quantitative requirement. In the 2005 curriculum revision, this requirement was bifurcated; the current requirements include one laboratory science course and one MATHL course. Courses that satisfy the MATHL requirement include The Nature of Math, Elementary Statistics, Introduction to Statistics, Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus with Pre-calculus Review, and Formal Logic. The 2005 distributive core curriculum also included an assessment plan, to begin in 2009, in which two areas would be assessed each year under the guidance of the Program Assessment and Development Committee (PADC). The MATHL requirement will be assessed in 2010-2011; the assessment committee includes two professors from the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science (Michael Hvidsten and Baili Chen) and one professor from Political Science (Christopher Gilbert). Quantitative reasoning course work is also a required component for many majors across campus. Most departments in the natural sciences require a course in either calculus or statistics, whereas the economics/management department requires both calculus and statistics for their majors. Both the psychology department and the sociology/anthropology departments have courses in quantitative methods in the disciplines, and the political science department has a statistics and quantitative reasoning component in one of their required courses.

2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve?

From the college catalogue:

Courses in Mathematical and Logical Reasoning introduce students to the methods and applications of deductive reasoning. As such, they focus on underlying axioms, theorems, and methods of proof. Considerable emphasis is placed on the application of these ideas to the natural and social sciences. They also place some emphasis as appropriate on the history of the discipline, its philosophical assumptions, the strengths and limitations of its methods, its relation to other disciplines, and its relation to social and ethical problems. Courses in this area will provide students with knowledge of the language of mathematics and logic; familiarity with mathematical, logical, algorithmic, or statistical methods; knowledge of practical applications; and appreciation of the role of the deductive sciences in the history of ideas, and of their impact on science, technology, and society.

3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so; please describe:

Currently, we do not have QR assessment instruments in place. One of the MATHL assessment committee's charges is to evaluate existing instruments during the fall of 2010 and adapt them to align with the MATHL criteria.

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 math, computer science and statistics department's current view of quantitative reasoning is somewhat narrow and focuses more on traditional mathematics, statistics and computer science. Expanding the scope of quantitative reasoning may be met with some resistance by those supporting this narrow focus. Additionally, we are just beginning to develop an institutional culture of assessment.

5. Considering your campus culture; what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives?

The math, computer science, and statistics department has had some discussion of a requirement for quantitative reasoning across the curriculum that would be similar to our current writing requirement. Furthermore, there is support in various allied disciplines (Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Psychology, Sociology, and Economics and Management) to develop quantitative reasoning across the curriculum. In particular, there are several faculty who are quite quantitatively literate in their respective disciplines, so there is an opportunity to engage these faculty.