quantitative literacy, science literacy, assessment


Science is an inherently quantitative endeavor, and general education science courses are taken by a majority of college students. As such, they are a powerful venue for advancing students’ skills and attitudes toward mathematics. This article reports on the development and validation of the Quantitative Reasoning for College Science (QuaRCS) Assessment, a numeracy assessment instrument designed for college-level general education science students. It has been administered to more than four thousand students over eight semesters of refinement. We show that the QuaRCS is able to distinguish varying levels of quantitative literacy and present performance statistics for both individual items and the instrument as a whole. Responses from a survey of forty-eight Astronomy and Mathematics educators show that these two groups share views regarding which quantitative skills are most important in the contexts of science literacy and educated citizenship, and the skills assessed with the QuaRCS are drawn from these rankings. The fully-developed QuaRCS assessment was administered to nearly two thousand students in nineteen general education science courses and one STEM major course in early 2015, and results reveal that the instrument is valid for both populations.



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