Quantitative Literacy (QL) is defined as “a habit of mind”, competency, and comfort in working with numerical data. Individuals with strong QL skills possess the ability to reason and solve quantitative problems from a wide array of discipline-specific and everyday life situations. They understand and can create sophisticated arguments supported by quantitative evidence and they can clearly communicate those arguments in a variety of formats (using words, tables, graphs, mathematical equations, etc., as appropriate).
History of Creation of the QLAC at NJCU
“In 2013, President Sue Henderson reaffirmed the University’s commitment to the University-wide learning objectives in her request that the Senate “Create and implement a Quantitative Reasoning and Speaking and Writing Across the Curriculum” initiative “in conjunction with the new General Education to be incorporated into the new curriculum and within the various majors” (memo to Dr. Karen Morgan Ivy, University Senate President). This work will build upon efforts begun in 2008, when Vice President Joanne Bruno charged the Speaking and Writing Across the Curriculum (SWAC) Committee, comprised of members from fifteen departments across the three colleges, to “develop a systemic, division-wide response [to] and plan for improving student writing and speaking” (charge to SWAC). The SWAC delivered its report in 2010.
In response to the President’s charge, the following recommendations build upon the major proposals of the SWAC report with the addition of the Quantitative Literacy Across the Curriculum initiative.
NJCU will establish two University-wide committees to design and implement a Speaking, Writing, and Reading Across the Curriculum initiative and a Quantitative Literacy Across the Curriculum initiative, aligned with the new General Education Program, in collaboration with the academic departments, to ensure quality speaking, writing, reading, and quantitative literacy instruction and skills acquisition across the curriculum at NJCU.”
The NJCU Strategic Plan 2013 – 2016 lists several objectives that will be well served by a comprehensive QLAC program:
Goal 1 – Enhance Academic Excellence
Goal 2 – Achieve Student Success: Academic, Personal, And Social
While built on the foundation of mathematical skills, the quantitative literacy needed by our students is distinct from traditional mathematics in several key dimensions. Where mathematics is intentionally abstract, quantitative literacy drives toward the specific context of problems. The power of mathematics lies in its generality and abstraction, in its ability to rise above specifics. Quantitative literacy, on the other hand, is anchored in real world data (Steen 2004). In addition, Quantitative Literacy involves rhetorical choices necessary to communicating arguments (Lutsky 2007). Thus mathematics training is insufficient for the complete development of applied Quantitative Literacy skills, just as Qualitative Literacy instruction cannot install the abstract, formal reasoning skills imbued by the mathematics curriculum.
Indeed, science requires both the abstract qualities of math and the real-world attribute of Quantitative Literacy to solve problems. Quantitative Literacy is not just preparing scientists. Its reach extends to the public, professionals, and personal lives of all our students.
Beimnet Teclezghi – Co-Chair
Laura Pannaman –Co-Chair