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Quantitative Reasoning Assessment


Quantitative Reasoning (QR) is a form of critical thinking in the context of numerical facts. QR has long been recognized as a fundamental skill our university graduates need to succeed in their careers and to function as informed citizens contributing to society. QR is also one of Cal Poly's five core competencies as outlined by its accrediting body, WASC Senior College and University Commission's core competencies.


Phase I: Forming the group, planning the study, composing the rubric

The Quantitative Reasoning Learning Community (QRLC) formed in Fall 2018 with the purpose of assessing the quantitative reasoning (QR) skills of Cal Poly's students who are near graduation.

The QRLC consists of two administrators from Academic Programs and Planning, as well as faculty from five of Cal Poly's six colleges, including the College of Science and Math (faculty from the Departments of Math, Biological Sciences, and Statistics), the College of Engineering (Industrial and Materials Engineering), the College of Liberal Arts (Political Science), Orfalea College of Business (Finance Dept.), and the College of Agriculture Food and Environmental Sciences (Natural Resources and Environmental Science).

In AY 2018-19, the QRLC met regularly to plan the study. The plan is to assess reports that students wrote as part of an upper-division course the students were already taking. The QRLC is not asking students to do extra assessment activities, tests, or assignmennts outside of their normal course work. In all cases, the submitted work was the result of a group project. The rubric to be used for assessing the students' work was largely developed during 2018-19.

In AY 2019-20, the rubric was finalized and artifacts were collected from various courses. Plans to score the artifacts at the end of the spring 2020 quarter were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the fall quarter of AY 2020-21, the QRLC, undeterred by the obvious challenges, enthusiastically committed to following this important project through to completion.


Phase II: Scoring of the artifacts

As of the spring 2021 quarter, the QRLC has begun scoring artifacts. Cal Poly has not done a remote assessment like this before. This is a time-consuming effort due to the nature of having to read many reports and score them in various categories according to the rubric. The QRLC will meet at various points this quarter to begin a review of one set of artifacts, including a norming session and review of the disciplinary expectations. Then, over the course of one or two weeks, the members are evaluating the artifacts.


Phase III: Sharing the results and recommending improvements

Phase III of the project will consist of writing the report and sharing it with the campus community. The QRLC hopes to be able to recommend concrete action for Cal Poly so we can use what we learn to improve our university.


last updated April 2021

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