Pedagogic Methods

Initial Publication Date: October 22, 2013

At some level, good teaching is good teaching and so almost any effective pedagogy can be applied to teaching quantitative reasoning (QR). (A broad range of teaching methods, including examples of each, can be found a the Pedagogy in Action teaching methods collection.) But some pedagogies are particularly well-suited to developing develop students' quantitative reasoning capacity.

  • Making and Testing Conjectures Compiled by Shirley J. Alt, The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.
    At the core of QR is the recognition that quantitative evidence provides powerful information to answer pressing problems. Often that power is harnessed best by clear articulation and testing of conjectures. This iterative process of generating potential solutions (or building blocks toward a solution) and then testing that idea against real data is a critical part of the quantitatively literate life.
  • Mathematical and Statistical Models Compiled by Bob MacKay, Clark College.
    While it is argued here and elsewhere that QR is inherently situated in context, this does not mean that the generalizing principles of mathematics aren't powerfully useful to QR practice. Specifically, the idea of modeling--both in the analytical and statistical sense--is often key to answering real-world problems. And formal modeling is often necessary in characterizing a problem's solution based upon the problem's parameters.
  • Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum Compiled by Len Vacher at University of South Florida, Tampa.
    Spreadsheets are an invaluable tool for navigating problems in personal and professional life. They provide an intuitive application of algebra and other mathematical concepts while at the same time reinforcing those concepts. With easy-to-use graphs, spreadsheets also allow students to readily "play" with the models they create. This active learning strategy arms students with what is arguably the most powerful tool in the modern QR toolbox.
  • Quantitative Writing Compiled by John C. Bean, Seattle University.
    One key facet of QR is the ability to communicate arguments that are inherently quantitative or to enrich qualitative arguments with quantitative information. This module provides detailed guidance on how to design courses and assignments to give students practice with the rhetorical challenges of writing with numbers.
  • Teaching Quantitative Reasoning with the News Compiled by Stuart Boersma, Central Washington University.
    We can't be experts in everything. And yet citizenship demands that we engage a wide range of issues, many of which have a quantitative element. Using news stories (with all of their frustrating and confusing limitations!) can be a wonderful way to introduce students to the challenge of making sense of quantitative arguments, whatever our familiarity with the subject may be.