Mount Saint Mary College

1. What is the status of Quantitative Reasoning programming on your campus?
Mount Saint Mary College is presently evaluating our General Education curriculum. Our current model is a 39 credit distributive model; while the new curriculum is a 39 credit interdisciplinary model with 24 credits of common coursework. While both curricula were developed based on outcomes defined by the faculty, the current curriculum generally leaves the responsibility for QR with those faculty in areas traditionally quantitative (e.g. mathematics, natural sciences). While QR may be addressed in other areas (e.g. psychology, sociology), the degree to which this is a focus in the course depends upon the instructor. We would like QR to be taught in a more systematic and consistent fashion so that all of our students achieve this very important outcome.

2. What are the key learning goals that shape your current programming or that you hope to achieve?

Our General Education outcome states that graduates should be able to accurately interpret, analyze, and evaluate evidence, statements, graphics, questions, etc., and use this information to construct well-supported arguments that justify a clearly stated conclusion. For the newly created curriculum, this has been operationalized as correctly assessing graphical and statistical data and the use of quantitative analysis in the investigation and resolution of contemporary issues. The new General Education curriculum was designed to introduce QR in the first two common classes and have QR as a primary outcome for the remaining three courses. The structure of this curriculum enables us to help students develop QR skills in a developmental fashion. The hope is students will be exposed to QR in more classes than those that have been traditionally quantitative in nature.

3. Do you have QR assessment instruments in place? If so, please describe:
As part of the evaluation of the new curriculum, we will be using a standardized assessment of Quantitative Reasoning (James Madison University's Quantitative Reasoning Test) in a pretest-posttest design in the 2008-2009 academic year. While we look forward to learning more about our students' quantitative reasoning via this test, and discussing how those results can be used to inform our curriculum, we are also interested in other course-embedded techniques for assessing QR. Specifically, we are interested in the assessment of QR in the context of course-embedded written assignments so that QR is taught across disciplines within context. Our campus has also been participating in the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA).

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?
Because we are currently evaluating the new General Education curriculum, we are uncertain of what the final General Education model will be. If the model remains more distributive in nature, the integration of QR into the curriculum beyond those areas "traditionally quantitative," is left to the individual instructor missing an important opportunity to expose students to QR within other disciplines. In addition, assessment also becomes a challenge because students will take courses exposing them to QR at different points in their academic career, and finding a common point for assessment is difficult. If however, we adopt a more interdisciplinary model, another challenge in extending QR on our campus is faculty experience with QR. While our faculty have had conversations on QR in the past, we have a cohort of new faculty who were not part of that discussion. There will likely be a need for professional development for faculty who do not have experience in teaching, developing assignments, or assessing QR. It is our hope that we can begin this process by attending the PKAL/QuIRK workshop.

5. Considering your campus culture, what opportunities or assets will be available to support your QR initiatives?
The present opportunity to support the QR initiative is our new General Education curriculum that we are evaluating. The faculty involved in teaching these courses come from divisions across the college and the courses are interdisciplinary. The interdisciplinary nature of the courses gives faculty a chance to work together on a common content from various perspectives including QR. Therefore, some faculty who may not traditionally teach QR now have exposure to QR in the classroom. The new curriculum also provides a unique opportunity to expose all students to QR in a deliberate and systematic fashion across the 24 credits of common course work. Finally, the interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum content provides the opportunity to teach QR across many content areas beyond the natural sciences and mathematics fields.