Writing about Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum
Spreadsheets across the Curriculum (SSAC) provides a libaray of student activities created by college faculty from around the country. The self-paced learning modules are short PowerPoint presentations that guide students through a problem-solving exercise using mathematics in non-mathematics context. A key component of the SSAC pedagogy is that students build spreadsheets to perform calculations to address questions posed in the module. Currently there are about 50 modules in the library spanning some 20 separate Library of Congress categories. The modules aim to shed light on particular quantitative literacy issues and/or teach particular quantitative literacy skills. The quantitative literacy learning objectives are explicitly identified on the first slide of the individual modules.
This activity is intended to add to the SSAC pedagogy and assessment. The student assignment is aimed at students who have already used one or more SSAC modules in their classes. The assignment is for the student to browse the SSAC library, select a new module, work through it, reflect on the quantitative literacy issues involved, and write a short (1- 2-page) reaction to the activity as a learning experience.
The key question these student module reviewers are asked is "How effective is this module in teaching you the quantitative skill or skills identified on the first page of the module?" Students are graded, among other things, on the understanding they display of the relevant quantitative literacy issues and the correctness of their style in handling mathematical information (e.g., equations).
In this activity, students will:
- Analyze the quantitative literacy content of a module by explicitly addressing the module's effectiveness of teaching the quantitative literacy skill that the module identifies as a learning objective
- Gain experience in writing about mathematical content.
- Learn a particular quantitative skill in more depth because the assignment asks them to include a description of the concepts involved in the quantitative issues they discuss.
- Learn how to write about equations in text, because the activity specifically asks them to include one or more equations in their review.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Teaching Notes and Tips
- Does the author demonstrate an understanding of the quantitative literacy skill?
- Does the review address the issue of conformity between what the module identifies as the quantitative skill and what the module actually delivers?
- Does the review address the issue of the relevancy of the spreadsheet to the mathematical problem solving involved?
- Does the review take a position on the efficacy of the module as a learning tool and support that position convincingly?
- Regarding mechanics of clarity and grace, where does the writing fall in a range between "incoherent and full of assaults on grammar and syntax" vs "well organized, well thought out, and free of problems of style."