quantitative literacy, assessment, core curriculum


Our institution, a small, private liberal arts college, recently revised its core curriculum. In the Department of Mathematics, we took this opportunity to formally introduce Quantitative Literacy into the language and the reality of the academic requirements for all students. We developed a list of characteristics that we thought all QL courses should exhibit, no matter in which department they are taught. We agreed on a short list of learning outcomes for students who complete those courses. Then we conducted a preliminary assessment of those two attributes: the fidelity of QL-labeled courses to our list of desired characteristics, and our students’ success in meeting the learning objectives. We also performed an attitudes survey in two courses, measuring students’ attitudes towards mathematics before and after completing a QL course. In the process we have had valuable conversations with full- and part-time faculty, and we have been led to re-examine the role of adjunct faculty in our department. In this paper we list our course characteristics and include one instructor’s description of how she ensured that her QL course exhibited many of those traits. We include examples of student work illustrating how they met the learning objectives, and we report on the results of our attitudes survey. Much remains to be done; we describe our preliminary conclusions and plans for the future.



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