**Quantitative Reasoning Across the Curriculum**

## A Multidisciplinary Approach to Teaching QR

Many scholars have called for a multidisciplinary, active learning approach to QR instruction. As Steen (2008: 19) states, "The success of writing across the curriculum is an inspiration to those who hope QL will follow in these footsteps. Indeed, the National Numeracy Network . . . is loosely modeled after the National Writing Project, a nationwide system of local coalitions that has provided effective support for writing across the curriculum for over a quarter century."

Briggs (2006) stresses the need for collaborative, multidisciplinary QR efforts.^{2} Although QR rests on a solid mathematical foundation (Madison 2004: 4-5), it requires more than mathematical or statistical fluency (Madison and Dingman 2010). As Ganter (2006: 13) notes, "QL must be everywhere in the curriculum, in all disciplines and all courses. . . . QL is a shared responsibility." Indeed, a multidisciplinary approach is central to many QR initiatives. "Like learning to write well or speaking a foreign language, numeracy is not something mastered in a single course. . . . Thus quantitative material needs to permeate the curriculum, not only in the sciences but also in the social sciences and, in appropriate cases, in the humanities. . . ." (Bok 2006: 134). Similarly, Steen (2004) notes that QL programs should involve faculty from multiple disciplines, and the social sciences may be especially well-positioned to take the lead in QR initiatives (Steen 2002). Wiest, Higgins and Frost (2007: 48-49) state that in terms of QL, mathematics "is a tool for greater purposes. Thus, the charge for quantitative literacy falls to teachers of all subject areas." The recognition that QR is the responsibility of *all* faculty provides the impetus for our current initiative.

**Video on Graphing Stories**

**Kurt Vonnegut on the shapes of stories.**

**Notes**

^{1} See, for example, Bressoud 2009; Diefenderfer, Doan and Salowey 2006; Fink and Nordmoe 2006; Gordon and Winn 2006; Haines and Jordan 2006; Hartzler and Leoni 2006; Hillyard et al. 2010; Johnson 2006; Miller 2010; Taylor 2006.

^{2} Briggs (2006: 18) recommends that a successful liberal arts mathematics course should ensure that: "(1) students must be equipped with strong critical and logical thinking skills, so they can navigate the media and be informed citizens; (2) they should have a strong number sense and be proficient at estimation, unit conversions, and the uses of percentages; (3) they should be able to read a statistical study—or at least a summary—and evaluate it critically, (4) they should possess the mathematical tools needed to make basic financial decisions, and (5) they should understand exponential growth and know that it governs everything from populations and prices to tumors and drugs in the blood." Similarly, at Dominican University, the goal of the foundation requirement in mathematics is designed to ensure that the student: (1) understand and use numbers and mathematical symbols, (2) manipulate and understand algebraic expressions, (3) think logically to solve problems, and (4) model real life problems using mathematics, read and understand mathematical information in the media and professional literature (Coe and Ziesler 2006: 35).

**Sources Cited**

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Bressoud, David. 2009. "Establishing the Quantitative Thinking Program at Macalester." *Numeracy* 2(1): Article 3.

Briggs, William L. 2006. "What Mathematics Should All College Students Know?" In *Current Practices in Quantitative Literacy*, edited by Rick Gillman. Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America. Pp. 17-19.

Carleton College. 2009. "Graduation Requirements." Dean of the College Web Site.

Diefenderfer, Caren, Ruth Doan, and Christina Salowey. 2006. "The Quantitative Reasoning Program at Hollins University." In *Current Practices in Quantitative Literacy*, edited by Rick Gillman. Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America. Pp. 41-48.

Fink, John B. and Eric D. Nordmoe. 2006. "A Decade of Quantitative Reasoning at Kalamazoo College." In *Current Practices in Quantitative Literacy*, edited by Rick Gillman. Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America. Pp. 51-62.

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Miller, Jane. 2010. "Quantitative Literacy Across the Curriculum: Integrating Skills from English Composition, Mathematics, and the Substantive Disciplines." *The English Forum* 74(4): 334-346.

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_______. 2004. *Achieving Quantitative Literacy: An Urgent Challenge for Higher Education*. Washington, DC: The Mathematical Association of America.

_______. 2008. "Reflections on Wingspread Workshop." ( This site may be offline. ) In *Calculation vs. Context: Quantitative Literacy and Its Implications for Teacher Education*, edited by Bernard L. Madison and Lynn Arthur Steen. Mathematical Association of America. Pp. 11-23.

Taylor, Corrine. 2006. "Quantitative Reasoning at Wellesley College." In *Current Practices in Quantitative Literacy*, edited by Rick Gillman. Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America. Pp. 141-146.

Wiest, Lynda R., Heidi J. Higgins, and Janet Hart Frost. 2007. "Quantitative Literacy for Social Justice." *Equity & Excellence in Education* 40: 47-55.