The QuIRK initiative has been supported by grants from the the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the W.M. Keck Foundation.
Funding from FIPSE (2004-05 through 2007-08) supported the early development of QuIRK as an advocate of a novel approach to quantitative reasoning (QR) that located the discussion in the context of the construction and evaluation of arguments. On the Carleton campus, the grant project included three elements.
- The project initiated a professional development program to encourage better quantitative reasoning instruction across campus. These workshops and brown-bag seminars motivated curricular reform supported by competitive mini-grants. While many courses were revised under the grant, special emphasis was placed on the creation of quantitatively-rich first-year seminars.
- The project developed an innovative protocol for assessing QR in students' written work.
- The project organized campus talks to raise awareness of the power of QR in contexts ranging from the costs of war to gun control to voting systems.
QuIRK's unique argument-based conception of QR has drawn national attention. The extensive list of publications and presentations related to QuIRK's FIPSE project can be found here.
With support from the NSF, QuIRK is adapting for dissemination its innovative protocol for assessing quantitative reasoning (QR) in student writing. Toward that end, QuIRK will work with six partners--Iowa State, Morehouse, St. Olaf, Beloit, Edmonds Community College, Welesley, and Yale--to consider revisions of QuIRK's scoring rubric for application at a broad variety of institution types. We will then conduct feasibility studies at Iowa State, Morehouse, Beloit, Edmonds, and Welesley.
At the same time, QuIRK will be exploring the usefulness of the rubric in summative assessment. Our assessment protocol has proved invaluable in motivating faculty discussions of the connections between QR and written argument and in guiding subsequent faculty development. But we are still unsure whether the data generated by our rubric is fine enough to tease out the differential effects of alternative curricular strategies. Using transcript analysis along with student attitudinal and demographic data, we will begin to explore this question and identify the correlates of QR proficiency.
To provide data for this research, the project also includes resources for faculty development workshops and curricular reforms.
Carleton's interdisciplinary and innovative Quantitative Inquiry, Reasoning, and Knowledge (QuIRK) initiative aspires to change campus culture by raising the community's appreciation for quantitative reasoning (QR) as a valuable intellectual skill and practice. Despite experts' recommendations that effective QR programming must require students to apply skills in diverse contexts, most QR programs are sequestered in a corner of the curriculum because many faculty members remain unconvinced of QR's relevance to their students.
With previous support from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (U.S. Department of Education), QuIRK has already completed a pilot project that has attracted significant Carleton faculty participation from less-quantitative departments by emphasizing the rhetorical aspects of QR in student writing. We propose to complete the cultural change by implementing fully our writing-centered model, encouraging curricular revision through best-practice workshops and course-revision grants, and implementing a student statistics fellowship program whose participants will support faculty pursuing new quantitative directions in teaching and scholarship.