Quantitative Literacy is “not so much about understanding abstract concepts as about applying elementary tools in sophisticated settings” (Steen, 2001).
What is a Q Course?
• Instruction on applying mathematical concepts and techniques to solve problems
• Instructors may review the basic math that students are applying
• A minimum of one class period must be spent on quantitative instruction, but it need not all be in the same period.
• Assessment of learning must occur via at least 2 assignments
• These assignments must be part of final grade
• Students must receive feedback on assignments so they can assess their level of mastery
Why is it Important?
As a culture we have long viewed mathematics as the domain of the talented few rather than as an essential life skill, every bit as important as the ability to write a clear essay or give a persuasive presentation. This perspective makes incorporating Q skills into a class a challenge for both students and instructors.
The first chapter of Mathematics and Democracy: The Case for Quantitative Literacy a book published by The National Council on Education and the Disciplines makes a strong argument for why Quantitative Literacy is essential for our students. Students are encouraged to read it.