quantitative reasoning, program development


As an inherently interdisciplinary endeavor, quantitative reasoning (QR) risks falling through the cracks between the traditional “silos” of higher education. This article describes one strategy for developing a truly cross-campus QR initiative: leverage the existing structures of campus writing programs by placing QR in the context of argument. We first describe the integration of Carleton College’s Quantitative Inquiry, Reasoning, and Knowledge initiative with the Writing Program. Based on our experience, we argue that such an approach leads to four benefits: it reflects important aspects of QR often overlooked by other approaches; it defuses the commonly raised objection that QR is merely remedial math; it sidesteps challenges of institutional culture (idiosyncratic campus history, ownership, and inertia); and it improves writing instruction. We then explore the implications of our approach for QR graduation standards. Our experience suggests that once we engaged faculty from across the curriculum in our work, it would have been difficult to adopt a narrowly defined requirement of skills-based courses. The article concludes by providing resources for those who would like to implement this approach at the course and institutional level.



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