University of Redlands
1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus?
The University of Redlands College of Arts and Sciences (the College) currently has, as part of its Liberal Arts Foundation (LAF) requirements for graduation, three courses in Mathematics and Science; a laboratory science (designated as MS1), a mathematics course (MS2) and another course in mathematics (which could include Computer Science) or science (not necessarily a lab science) (MS3). The MS2 requirement is the closest to a Quantitative Reasoning requirement, and is currently satisfied by any course in the calculus sequence, and by two courses designed for students who are not majoring in mathematics or a science. MATH 101, Finite Mathematics, was originally designed for business majors, and although it is no longer required for that major, the course still covers probability, matrix algebra, and linear programming, in addition to logic and functions. It is also a prerequisite for MATH 102, the required mathematical content course for prospective elementary educators. MATH 100, Mathematics for the Liberal Arts, is designed simply to satisfy the MS2 requirement, with content left to the choice of the instructor. This has been the situation for nearly 15 years. In connection with accreditation and retention efforts, the faculty of the College is beginning to reexamine its graduation requirements, and all departments have begun to reconsider those parts of the LAF for which they're responsible.
2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve?
The catalog description of the MS2 requirement was recently rewritten to clearly reflect its desired outcomes; students completing the MS2 requirement will demonstrate:
An ability to construct and analyze mathematical models and to solve problems using mathematical tools;
Familiarity with mathematical reasoning, including mathematical logic, proof, and generalization;
An understanding of mathematical concepts as evidenced by an ability to communicate those concepts to others.
This rewrite took place in the context of rephrasing the status quo, intentionally avoiding the more involved question of whether or not these goals adequately describe what the mathematics faculty and the college faculty as a whole would like to see. As the College begins its effort to reform the LAF, the quantitative component will certainly be rewritten, and we hope to address how to frame that discussion at the workshop. Beyond assessing each individual class on its own merits (final exams, student evaluations), no. As the College has begun to reexamine the LAF and the curriculum in general, it is clear that there is interest in interdisciplinary assessment, such as looking for evidence of facility with QR in department capstone courses, or having a capstone project to address all of the LAF requirements, but no concrete steps in that direction have yet been taken. As we move forward, the mathematics faculty will need to provide leadership and expertise while remaining receptive to the opinions and concerns of other programs. In particular, the question of whether facility with statistical reasoning should be recognized as quantitative reasoning, or treated as a learning outcome in its own right, has been a thorny one on our campus, and will need to be specifically addressed.
3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so; please describe:
Beyond assessing each individual class on its own merits (final exams, student evaluations), no. As the College has begun to reexamine the LAF and the curriculum in general, it is clear that there is interest in interdisciplinary assessment, such as looking for evidence of facility with QR in department capstone courses, or having a capstone project to address all of the LAF requirements, but no concrete steps in that direction have yet been taken.
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?
Not many. The college-wide nature of the reform means that the faculty is ready to discuss new programming, and eager for examples of assessment which could be adapted to the other pieces of the LAF. College faculty have expressed a clear desire to avoid the checklist nature of the current slate of LAF requirements, but there is a concern that an effort to allow students to take more ownership of their general education would allow them to opt out of QR altogether. The challenge will be to allow students some flexibility in how they encounter QR, while still ensuring that they will. In the recent past, LAF requirements have been used to protect turf, to increase enrollments in courses, or to justify hiring additional faculty, and so any effort to maintain or expand graduation requirements will be viewed through that history. Given the desire to simplify the requirements, college faculty will be receptive to reform which clearly reduces them, but will require sound justification for maintaining or strengthening them.
5. Considering your campus culture; what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives?
The timing of this effort could not be better for us. The University of Redlands is beginning to embark on a substantial renovation of its Liberal Arts Foundation, and our effort to reexamine our MS2/QR requirement will be welcomed and supported by both administration and faculty. In response to upcoming re-accreditation, the College is focusing on developing means of assessment of all aspects of its curriculum, to the point where we have appointed a member of our faculty as sort of an assessment czar. Developing assessment of our curriculum will be a high priority effort in the coming year, and designing an assessment of MS2/QR will be supported and appreciated as an early example which could potentially be adapted and modified to assess other parts of our general education plan.