Bridgewater State University Teacher-Scholar Summer Institute
Quantitative Reasoning Across Disciplines
Matt Salomone, Assistant Professor of Math and Computer Science, Director of Math Services
Dr. Stacey Sheriff, Assistant Professor of English
Brief description of theme
Numbers are too important to be left to mathematicians. Quantitative reasoning is valuable in most any scholarly discipline, yet students and even faculty can be reticent to engage quantitative evidence in their subject. This workshop is designed to help participants to take the next step in their quantitative pedagogy, whatever the current presence of quantitative reasoning in their teaching may be. Participants in this track will develop strategies to increase students agency and skill with quantitative reasoning, with emphasis on carefully evaluating and formulating written arguments from quantitative evidence.
Track learning outcomes: Participants will
1. Identify the nature, utility, and ubiquity of quantitative ideas in their discipline.
2. Examine through case study and their own scholarly experience the barriers to effective quantitative communication and understanding.
3. Develop pedagogical strategies to help students evaluate and formulate written arguments from quantitative evidence accurately and confidently.
4. Design and scaffold assignments around accurate and contextual quantitative prompts, ranging in scope from discussions to projects to seminar courses.
5. Create rubrics to assess students quantitative skills in writing in their discipline.
Accomplishing these outcomes
Participants in the quantitative reasoning track will be asked to bring with them some evidence of quantitative practice in their teaching or scholarship depending on background and comfort level, this could range anywhere from a short numerical snippet from a journal article to an existing quantitative reasoning-rich writing assignment. Participants will be supported to take their next step: to design effective quantitative prompts for discussion or reflection, to scaffold and support students in a deeper writing assignment in which quantitative evidence is either peripheral or essential, or to design a syllabus for a course (such as a first- or second-year seminar) in which quantitative reasoning is a consistent thematic approach to the course content.
In successive readings and discussions, participants will be introduced to numeracy as a concept; the basic mathematical skill set necessary to QR; effective formulation of QR in writing; and the authentic incorporation of QR into the curriculum. Participants will be asked to reflect on how each topic connects with the learning outcomes of the quantitative coursework they are developing, whatever its scope. Participants will also engage with quantitative arguments from a variety of contexts and subjects to practice and to find their own most effective modes of QR pedagogy.
Fulfilling Institute goals and BSU strategic goals
Increasingly, numerical data is seen as the gold standard of reliable evidence for argument, from disciplinary scholarship to public policymaking to educational leadership and assessment. We as a university have a mandate to ensure our graduates are willing and capable to address a world awash in numbers. This workshop not only will provide faculty with pedagogical ideas to address students quantitative agency and skill within the context of their disciplinary coursework, but it also will encourage faculty to draw from their own scholarly experience to model for students how researchers in their field employ quantitative reasoning.
This workshop aligns well with BSUs desires to improve interdisciplinary collaboration, to foster the scientific capacity in our region, and to promote social justice in education.
Because quantitative reasoning is a contextual writing skill, it is naturally interdisciplinary. This workshop is designed to promote collaboration across departments and schools by highlighting the common cause shared by all disciplines in improving students quantitative reasoning skills, with the goal of making quantitative reasoning a leitmotif of our curriculum, not an isolated skill.
Further, quantitative reasoning is especially vital to BSUs graduates, many of whom will pursue careers in education. Many K-12 curricula have been slow to react to the quantitative (not just mathematical) demands of an increasingly technological workforce, and functional numeracy is still a challenge among both students and teachers. Enhancing our graduates quantitative abilities will have a trickle-down effect toward enhancing numerical facility and confidence among K-12 students in our region.
Finally, to that same end, critical quantitative reasoning is a vital skill for citizenship and upward mobility. A gap in numeracy still exists across lines of race and gender, and as numerical skill is often used a gatekeeper to more highly-skilled careers, numeracy is therefore a class issue as well. Just as enhancing literacy in education is essential to work for social justice, so too is enhancing numeracy.
Facilitators faculty development experience
Dr. Salomone is in his second full-time year at BSU and is an active member of the Faculty Development Leadership Group. He is engaged in faculty development initiatives connected to quantitative reasoning, STEM structured learning assistance via the STREAMS grant and target mathematics program, and developmental mathematics as director of BSUs Math Services and course coordinator of Freshman Skills 102. He was also a pedagogy track participant in the inaugural Teacher-Scholar Summer Institute in 2010. Most recently, he presented and facilitated a breakout session at BSUs Strength in Numbers faculty development workshop in January 2011.
Dr. Sheriff is in her first full-time year at BSU and is an active member of the Writing Across the Curriculum Network. She was an invited presenter at the 2010 Teacher-Scholar Summer Institute, giving a presentation for the Sustainability track. She is a specialist in Rhetoric & Composition with expertise in technical writing and an interest in fostering faculty collaboration around interdisciplinary science writing. She teaches writing-intensive courses at all levels and has experience leading pedagogical workshops encouraging humanists in the effective writing and presentation of quantitative and technical content.
In this listing:
Crossroads in Mathematics. Illinois Mathematics Association of Community Colleges, http://www.imacc.org/standards/
Lutsky, N. Teaching Quantitative Reasoning: How to Make Psychology Statistically Significant. Association for Psychological Science Observer, March 2006.
Madison, B. Pedagogical Challenges of Quantitative Literacy. ASA Section on Statistical Education 2006.
Proceedings of the Calculation vs. Context conference on quantitative literacy held at the Wingspread Conference Center, June 2007.
Proceedings of the National Forum on Quantitative Literacy held in Washington, D.C., December 2001, compiled by Madison, B. and Steen, L.
Quantitative Reasoning for College Graduates: A Complement to the Standards. MAA Subcommittee on Quantitative Literacy report, 1998.
Rutz, C. and Grawe, N. Pairing WAC and Quantitative Reasoning through Portfolio Assessment and Faculty Development. Across the Disciplines 6 (2009, December 3), retrieved from http://wac.colostate.edu/atd/assessment/rutz_grawe.cfm
Last Modified: March 30, 2011