Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum
Len Vacher, University of South Florida, Tampa
Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum was a three-year project to develop and test educational spreadsheet modules that enhance quantitative literacy wherever quantitative problems arise in the undergraduate curriculum.
The project was supported by the National Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education, through award DUE 0442629 (7/2005-6/2008).
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. learn more about SSAC and QL here
Teaching with SSAC. Ask students a quantitative question in non-mathematics context -- a question that requires consideration of numbers, tables or graphs, and/or a calculation or estimate. Then ask the students to build a spreadsheet to answer the question. What mathematics applies? How do you do the mathematics? How do you design the spreadsheet to calculate an answer? What cell equations belong in the cells? In short, ask students to figure out How to Solve It using the software that resides in the technology sitting on their desks. learn more about teaching with SSAC here
The SSAC Library. SSAC modules are PowerPoint presentations that lead students to build Excel spreadsheets while they examine and solve elementary mathematics problems in non-mathematics context. In working through the modules, students apply their problem-solving abilities to three, interacting sets of problems simultaneously -- by determining the correct cell equations to populate the spreadsheets, by working through the embedded mathematical content, and by attacking the in-discipline problem or problems of the context. The modules are intended to be intense activities in problem solving. learn more about the design of SSAC modules
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For More Information
There is a series of papers on SSAC in the journal Numeracy:
"Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum, 1: The Idea and the Resource" (Vacher and Lardner, 2010).