About QuIRK

QuIRK is an innovative project intended to help Carleton and other institutions of higher education better prepare students to evaluate and use quantitative evidence in their future roles as citizens, consumers, professionals, business people, and government leaders. The focus of the project is on how quantitative reasoning (QR) is used in the development, evaluation, and presentation of principled argument.

How It Works

As an approach to pedagogical reform, the QuIRK initiative employs a circular model including:

  • Annual evaluation for quantitative reasoning in student writing samples
  • Ongoing faculty development sessions that provide tools and understanding of student needs
  • Regular curricular change, including course revisions and design of new courses
  • Further assessment to evaluate reform efforts

Student Learning Objectives

The QuIRK model reflects several key learning objectives well-attuned to the learning needs of students pursuing STEM-related fields. Students who participate in a QuIRK-based curriculum will demonstrate:

  • Strong quantitative thinking skills, including ability to state questions and issues in numerical terms, identify appropriate quantitative and numerical evidence, and understanding and use of appropriate quantitative or numerical methods
  • Competent implementation, involving skill in generating, collecting, and access of appropriate data, correct use of quantitative methods, and focused analysis of appropriate data
  • Thoughtful analysis and assessment, incorporating thoughtful interpretation to explore question and issues under consideration and understanding of methodological constraints.
  • Effective communication, using appropriate presentation and reporting skills

Why Assess Quantitative Reasoning in Writing?

The writing-oriented approach to teaching quantitative reasoning competencies includes:

  • Cross-disciplinary assessment of QR skills, through evaluation of student writing samples
  • Use of papers as a means to assess writing skills offers students a contextrich environment to articulate their approach and related use of inquiry and related reasoning
  • Reflects student sophistication in reasoning with numbers, as they are encouraged to articulate their reasoning in writing
  • Reveals insights into students’ intellectual habits associated with quantitative reasoning, including creation, use and interpretation of numerical data, tables and charts