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Revised General Education Program


2001 Appendix A - General Education Core Areas


Mathematical and Quantitative Reasoning Core Area (MQ)

Definition

Mathematical & Quantitative Reasoning: courses that advance skills in, understanding of, and appreciation for mathematics and the disciplines that have grown from mathematics.

Guidelines

Courses in Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning will:

  1. Extend and expand each student's knowledge of the mathematical, statistical and computational sciences, and the role of these sciences in the natural and social sciences, technology, and elsewhere.
  2. Further develop skills in the techniques of computation, mathematical reasoning, and statistical analysis appropriate to the student's academic and vocational interests.
  3. Develop an appreciation of the computational, mathematical, and statistical sciences as part of our intellectual heritage and as among our greatest collective human achievements.

It is required that courses in the Mathematical and Quantitative Reasoning category include assignments that involve at least three of the skill areas. Most likely, they will include Read Complex Texts and Use of Quantitative Data and either Write Effectively or Use of Information Technology.

The study of all mathematical sciences requires the close reading of complex texts. In fact, written accounts of ideas, processes, and methods in the mathematical and computational sciences are generally acknowledged to be among the most difficult of all texts. Mathematical textbooks are the distillation of the works of the great mathematical thinkers from antiquity to the present. Even a single equation is a concise notation of a mathematical sentence, and the careful statement or specification of a mathematical theorem, computational algorithm, computer program, or statistical procedure often requires the most careful attention to language.

That being said, it is expected that a course intended to satisfy the spirit of this requirement will require some reading, in the conventional sense, of textual material in the computational, statistical or mathematical sciences. These readings may be contained in a standard textbook. A course devoted to the review or further development of mechanical skills in algebra, say, may not require much reading of this sort, but would thereby be unlikely to fulfill the principal aims of this General Education category. It is anticipated, therefore, that all courses in this category will involve skill reading complex texts.

It is expected that most courses in this category will include quantitative reasoning. While subjects like synthetic geometry or logic are minimally quantitative in nature, courses that treat statistical ideas, ideas related to calculus, and introductory computer programming entail analysis and manipulation of quantitative data.

It is expected that most courses proposed for this category will, additionally, involve information technology and/or writing effectively.

List of kinds of assignments that incorporate particular skills (not intended to preclude other assignments the meet the criteria):

  • Assignments involving information technology:
    1. Writing computer programs
    2. Use of computer algebra systems, e.g., Maple, and graphing calculators
    3. Use of spreadsheets
    4. Use of special-purpose on-line software for statistical analyses, visualization of mathematical concepts, and implementing or exemplifying mathematical ideas.
    5. Use of special-purpose on-line systems for practice in computation and problem solving.
  • Assignments involving writing effectively. Each of the following is assumed to include a cycle of feedback and revision:
    1. Writing, debugging, and commenting a computer program.
    2. Writing mathematical proofs.
    3. Writing a complete project-size solution, with careful explanations of a substantial mathematical problem.
    4. Writing a report of a statistical analysis with explanations.

Examples not available at this time