1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus?
We have no official QR/Quantitative Literacy (QL) programming. However all students are required to complete a math competency requirement that can consist of an AP Calculus AB score of 4, or completing either Calculus I, Contemporary Math or Elementary Statistics. In addition, all students must complete at least one natural science course all of which have quantitative concepts built in. While we have a writing-across-the-curriculum (WAC) component in our General Education requirements, we have no comparable QR across the curriculum. Our WAC requirements begin when first-year students complete a two semester course (Foundations of the Liberal Arts I and II) that is heavily weighted towards improving writing and academic argumentation skills. Beyond the first year students are required to take two additional non-introductory classes, outside of their major that have been designated as Writing Intensive. A Writing Assessment Committee (WAC) continues to explore ways to improve assessment of writing; presently assessment is portfolio based. For several years faculty in the Natural Science and Math Division have been exploring ways to strengthen QR/QL in our curriculum, but to date have not been able to convince the faculty at large that this should be integrated across the curriculum as is writing. We look for ways to convince our colleagues that these writing and QR skills are equally valuable and necessary for any liberally educated person.
2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve?
Our key learning goals include:
1. Design a strategy for implementation of QR/QL programming that fits with our institutional priorities and directions.
2. Construct convincing arguments for addition of such programming to our curriculum based on the models and successes presented at the workshop.
3. Evaluate various assessment models for QR programming, realizing that it is always more effective to plan for assessment at the initial phase of program development.
Two approaches we have considered are:
A) Introduce a more intentional infusion which emphasizes the reasoning process and assessment of QR in classes that traditionally require the incorporation and evaluation of quantitative concepts (such as mathematics, economics, physics, research methods, etc.)
B) Explore possible connections between QR and our WAC, as writing assessment already has significant faculty investment and support.
3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so; please describe:
Not really. The Registrar verifies that the math and science GE courses described in question (1) are successfully completed. No other comprehensive assessment of progress made in developing quantitative reasoning capacity is currently employed. One instrument that could be used is the quantitative score on the GRE, but this exam is not taken by every senior. We'd like to develop valid tools to review and assess the impact of the current math requirement, and examine how students are changing throughout their undergraduate experience at Transylvania so that we can make appropriate modifications that foster more significant student development with respect to quantitative proficiency.
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?
Our challenges are probably fairly common. There is skepticism on the part of some faculty regarding the necessity of QR within our liberal arts mission. There is some skepticism on the part of the faculty about the value added relative to the time invested for assessment. The faculty are already stretched pretty thin and hesitate to initiate more extensive curricular requirements (and associated assessment) until they the clearly see the benefit for our students. Resources needed such as faculty time, momentum for the implementation of a QR program and financial assets are a concern.
5. Considering your campus culture; what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives?
Another group on campus is investigating General Education requirements with respect to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and globalization as part of an AAC & U program. We believe an examination of QR approaches and assessment would synchronize nicely with this initiative which is universally supported by faculty. Transylvania University enthusiastically supports a culture of writing and its assessment. We are intrigued by the possibility of integrating a QR component into an already established writing assessment program. We have a small faculty and administration that cooperate and work well together because of mutual respect. We are in the midst of a period of transition with a new President who is in the process of developing future directions, and we are in the process of re-accreditation which affords us the opportunity to examine our current practices, including our general education requirements. Our Associate Dean of the College is a scientist and previously worked at an institution where QR was imbedded throughout the curriculum. She is supportive of the team's efforts and goals.