SSAC and Quantitative Literacy

Quantitative Literacy, the opposite of math avoidance, is the habit of mind which enables a person to engage quantitative material in order to solve a problem or to frame an argument. Like maturity, quantitative literacy comes with experience and growth. The goal of Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum (SSAC) is to promote this experience and growth.

Why Across the Curriculum?

Mathematics and Democracy: The Case for Quantitative Literacy, prepared by the National Council of on Education and the Disciplines, Lynn Arthur Steen, Executive Editor, NCED, The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 2001.
  • "Mathematics asks students to rise above context, while quantitative literacy asks students to stay in context. Mathematics is about general principles that can be applied in a range of contexts; quantitative literacy is about seeing every context through a quantitative lens." Deborah Hughes-Hallett, (2001) "Achieving Numeracy: The Challenge of Implementation" (pg. 93-98), in: L.A. Steen (editor), Mathematics and Democracy, National Council on Education and the Disciplines, p. 93-98. Browse the book



  • "Quantitative literacy cannot be regarded as the sole responsibility of high school mathematics teachers or of college teachers in mathematics departments. It has long been recognized, for example, that instruction in writing literacy, isolated in English composition courses, cannot succeed. Students quickly recognize that a requirement satisfied by a course or two in a single department is a local 'hoop' to be jumped through, not a global requirement central to their education. Students often behave as if mathematical ideas are applicable only in mathematics courses, so that once they enter the world of their chosen major they can safely forget whatever they learned in those courses."
    Randall M. Richardson and William G, McCallum (2003), "The Third R in Literacy", in B. Madison and L.A. Steen, Quantitative Literacy: Why Numeracy Matters for Schools and Colleges, National Council on Education and the Disciplines, p. 99-106 Browse the book



  • "The cornerstone of quantitative literacy is the ability to apply quantitative ideas in new or unfamiliar contexts. This is very different from most students' experience of mathematics courses, in which the vast majority of problems are of types that they have seen before.... Mathematics courses that concentrate on teaching algorithms, but not on varied applications in context, are unlikely to develop quantitative literacy. To imporve quantitative literacy, we have to wrestle with the difficult task of getting students to analyze novel situations...."
    Deborah Hughes-Hallett, 2003. "The Role of Mathematics Courses in the Development of Quantitative Literacy", in B. Madison and L.A. Steen, Quantitative Literacy: Why Numeracy Matters for Schools and Colleges, National Council on Education and the Disciplines, p. 91-98. Browse the book

  • More Links to Quantitative Literacy

    ... the need for a high level of quantitative literacy ... is reinforced by individual freedoms, economic competitiveness, and the lack of economic safety nets. QL offers tools for survival in a Darwinian society.
    Bernard L. Madison and Lynn Arthur Steen (2008), "Evolution of Numeracy and the National Numeracy Network" Numeracy -- Advancing Education in Quantitative Literacy, the electronic journal of the National Numeracy Network, v. 1, n.1

    A textbook for quantitative literacy courses: Understanding Our Quantitative World by Janet Andersen and Todd Swanson, Mathematical Association of America, 2005. Good collateral reading for non-mathematics courses with a QL dimension.



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