What is Quantitative Literacy?

Report
Re-Envisioning Mathematics
Pathways
North Carolina Math Curriculum Improvement Project
Kick-Off Event
August 30, 2012
Amy Getz
Charles A. Dana Center
The University of Texas at Austin
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The structure of the college mathematics sequence...
If you needed math, you needed Calculus...
Calculus
Sequence
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2
The structure of the college mathematics sequence...
If you needed math, you needed Calculus...
PreCalculus
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Calculus
Sequence
3
The structure of the college mathematics sequence...
If you needed math, you needed Calculus...
College
Algebra
PreCalculus
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Calculus
Sequence
4
The structure of the college mathematics sequence...
If you needed math, you needed Calculus...
Intermediate
Algebra
College
Algebra
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PreCalculus
Calculus
Sequence
5
The structure of the college mathematics sequence...
If you needed math, you needed Calculus...
Beginning
Algebra
Intermediate
Algebra
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College
Algebra
PreCalculus
Calculus
Sequence
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More and more courses built to support a sequence
based on the skills need for Calculus
Pre-Algebra
Beginning
Algebra
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Intermediate
Algebra
College
Algebra
Pre-Calculus
Calculus
Sequence
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The problem was...
The proportion of students going to Calculus was shrinking
College Board of Mathematical Sciences 201 Survey of Undergraduate
Mathematics: Community College Enrollments by Course
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When will I ever use this?
People started looking for real evidence...
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Failure rates started rising
And for a while we didn’t worry about it...
• We were maintaining rigorous standards
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Failure rates started rising
And for a while we didn’t worry about it...
• We were maintaining rigorous standards
• They were adults and responsible for their own
failure
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Failure rates started rising
And for a while we didn’t worry about it...
• We were maintaining rigorous standards
• They were adults and responsible for their own
failure
• If we had to do it, why shouldn’t they?
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But some people start asking the question...
Should we block access to higher education to
someone because they do not master a skill that
does not further their educational goals?
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This is not to say that students shouldn’t take math...
But is the algebra needed for Calculus the most
appropriate math for everyone?
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You mean all math isn’t algebra?
The new vision for college mathematics
Multiple pathways that are rigorous and meaningful to
students’ programs of study and lives...
 STEM (leads to Calculus or technical programs with
a need for algebraic manipulation)
 Statistics
 Quantitative Literacy (QL) or Quantitative Reasoning
(QR)
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What is Quantitative Literacy?
QL prepares students with the skills needed to
be an informed, thoughtful and discerning
citizen and consumer in a world saturated with
quantitative information.
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What is Quantitative Literacy?
Despite is occasional use as a euphemism for statistics in
school curricula, quantitative literacy is not the same as
statistics. Neither is it the same as mathematics, nor is it (as
some fear) watered-down mathematics. Quantitative literacy
is more a habit of mind, an approach to problems that
employs and enhances both statistics and mathematics.
(2001). Mathematics and Democracy: The Case for Quantitative Literacy.
Prepared by The National Council on Education and the Disciplines,
Editor: Lynn Steen.
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What is Quantitative Literacy?
In math, what we need is “quantitative literacy,” the ability to
make quantitative connections whenever life requires (as
when we are confronted with conflicting medical test results
but need to decide whether to undergo a further procedure)
and “mathematical modeling,” the ability to move practically
between everyday problems and mathematical formulations
(as when we decide whether it is better to buy or lease a new
car).
Garfunkel, S. and Mumford, D. (2011, August 24). How to Fix Our Math
Education. The New York Times.
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What is Quantitative Literacy?
Quantitative literacy insists on understanding. This
understanding must be flexible enough to enable its owner to
apply quantitative ideas in new contexts as well as in familiar
contexts. Quantitative literacy is not about how much
mathematics a person knows but about how well it can be
used.
Deborah Hughes Hallett (2003). The Role of Mathematics Courses in the
Development of Quantitative Literacy. in Quantitative Literacy: Why
Literacy Matters for Schools and Colleges. National Council on Education
and the Disciplines. p. 91. http://www.maa.org/ql/pgs91_98.pdf
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What is Quantitative Literacy?
Quantitative literacy is simple math used in
complex situations.
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Content of QL Courses
Mathematics in service of context
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Numeracy and fluency with numbers
Proportional reasoning
Basic algebraic skills
Modeling
Descriptive and Inferential Statistics
• A consumer of statistics less than a creator
• Interpreting and evaluating quantitative information
embedded in text
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Contexts that are important to the general population
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Personal Finance
Health Literacy
Statistical information as presented in the media
Social and political issues
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Is this college material?
Do college students have these skills?
2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)
• Measured quantitative literacy defined as “the knowledge
and skills needed to identify and perform computations
using numbers embedded in printed materials.”
Percentage of people proficient or above:
• Bachelors degree: 31%
• Graduate courses or a graduate degree: 36%
(2007). Literacy in Everyday Life: Results From the 2003 National
Assessment of Adult Literacy. National Center for Educational Statistics.
p. iii. http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007480
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For more information about the Dana Center’s Work:
 Amy Getz: [email protected]
 General information: www.utdanacenter.org
 Higher Education work:
www.utdanacenter.org/mathways
 Contact the Dana Center Higher Education Team at
[email protected]
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