Initial Publication Date: June 10, 2008

Assessing Quantitative Reasoning in Student Writing

"[Quantitative Reasoning] is largely absent from our current systems of assessment and accountability."
-National Council on Education and the Disciplines, Mathematics Association of America, and Mathematical Sciences Education Board Forum on Quantitative Literacy

QuIRK has developed an innovative tool for assessing quantitative reasoning in student writing. In addition to providing evidence for program evaluation, assessment results guide professional development efforts. The pages in this section describe QuIRK's assessment methodology for those interested in implementing a similar assessment program.

The Case for Assessing Quantitative Reasoning in Student Writing

What is quantitative reasoning and why does that suggest it is useful to assess student proficiency in papers rather than in standardized tests?

QuIRK Student Learning Goals

QuIRK's assessment rubric reflects these four student learning goals.

QuIRK's Assessment Rubric (Microsoft Word 71kB Dec7 09)

(Updated 12/31/09.)
The rubric used by QuIRK to assess quantitative reasoning in student papers at Carleton.
The development, use, and reliability of the rubric is discussed in "A Rubric for Assessing Quantitative Reasoning in Written Arguments" by Nathan D. Grawe, Neil S. Lutsky, and Christopher J. Tassava

QuIRK's Assessment Protocol

A brief description of how QuIRK samples student papers for assessment and organizes annual assessment sessions.

Applying the Rubric Outside Carleton

Discussion of five feasibility studies which will soon test the usefulness of QuIRK's rubric in a wide variety of institutional contexts. Also includes discussion of how QuIRK's methods can be adapted to environments different from Carleton's.

Research Findings Based on Assessment Data

Reports on QR proficiency based on Carleton's QR assessment sessions

Interested in learning more?

If you would like to learn more about QuIRK's writing-based assessment of QR or if you would like to visit Carleton for first-hand experience with our assessment, contact Nathan Grawe (