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D. Quantitative Literacy Background and Guidelines

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Guidelines Relating to the Curriculum

Underlying Principles

Quantitative literacy for a Knox student should have at least three main components:

  1. An ability to do symbolic manipulations at the level of 2nd year high school algebra.
  2. An ability to reason about and solve problems with quantitative information.
  3. An ability to construct and interpret mathematical models--that is, an ability to translate real world situations into abstract mathematics, manipulate the resulting mathematical symbols, and then interpret the results in the original real world situation.

There are several observations which are important in our consideration of this literacy requirement:

A person who is quantitatively literate should be thought of as having obtained a minimal knowledge base necessary to engage the sorts of quantitative problems they should be expected to encounter at Knox. In other words, quantitative literacy is a prerequisite--and not a substitute--for further study. Just as introductory foreign language courses are thought of as a necessary hurdle for students interested in seriously engaging literary works written in a foreign language, so too should quantitative literacy be thought of as simply giving students the quantitative language skills necessary for them to engage serious quantitative problems.

Some students entering Knox may be unprepared for the sort of quantitative problems we should expect them to encounter. For instance, in a recent cohort of students entering Knox, more than 35% had an ACT mathematics score of 23 or below. According to the ACT in their own assessment of ACT math scores (given at the URL a student at this level will not be able to perform many elementary mathematical operations routinely expected of them in courses with a substantial quantitative component. (As an example, students with an ACT score in the range 20-23 should only be expected to solve "routine first-degree equations".)

The Requirement

A student entering Knox must initially demonstrate proficiency:

To satisfy the quantitative literacy requirement, students should first demonstrate proficiency in elementary mathematics. To demonstrate proficiency in elementary mathematics, students must satisfy one of the following:

  1. Obtain a score of 24 or above on the ACT math component.
  2. Obtain a score of 570 or above on the SAT Level 1 math component.
  3. Complete a course in the mathematics department at the level of Math 121 or above.

A student who has demonstrated proficiency must take a course designated as QL.

A QL course should be one in which students encounter applications of quantitative reasoning in a disciplinary context. Additionally, by definition, a QL course should satisfy the following criteria:

  1. It should require students to reason and solve problems with quantitative information.
  2. It should require students to construct and interpret mathematical models.
  3. It should require students to perform symbolic manipulation--and to understand the meaning and uses of those symbols.

A C or better in any mathematics course (with the exception of Math 121) will simultaneously satisfy both mathematics proficiency and quantitative literacy.

The authority for determining whether a course satisfies the QL requirement will rest with the Curriculum Committee.

Knox College

Printed on Tuesday, July 17, 2018