Assessment of Quantitative Literacy

Principal Investigators: Jeffrey Grabill (HUB), Vince Melfi (PRIME)
Project Manager: Becky Matz (HUB) and Vince Melfi (PRIME)
Graduate Students: Kathryn Appenzeller, Luke Tunstall
Past Graduate Students: Jeffrey Craig, Andrew Krause, Timothy Wegner
Funding: The HUB for Innovation in Learning and Technology, PRIME
Dates the project is funded: 2015-Present

Background: This project focuses on two new math courses at MSU (MTH 101 and MTH 102) that seek to develop students' skills in quantitative literacy and its application to health, media, the environment, politics and more.

As the course sections scale from one-instructor classes of size 30 to those of size 400 with lecturers, graduate teaching assistants, and undergraduate learning assistants involved, there is a critical need to ensure that: (1) all students have the opportunity to be successful in the courses, including those who have previously been marginalized and underserved by traditional mathematics in K-12 schooling, and (2) that the courses are fulfilling their original mission of engaging students to think deeply about numbers as they manifest in the real world. That is—in relation to the latter need—that the courses are not devolving into a focus on computation or remedial mathematics, and instead are fostering the stated learning goals.

Current work: Presently, there are multiple aspects of the courses that individuals involved in the courses are exploring. If you are interested in any aspects of the courses (including those not written below), feel free to reach out to current PRIME graduate students involved in the work. These interests include:

  • Formative assessment as the courses scale in size
  • The multiple literacies fostered and needed for quantitative literacy
  • Students' near and far transfer of skills developed in the courses to other contexts
  • The professional development of graduate teaching assistants—most of whom have backgrounds in mathematics—to work in or around the courses

Past and future presentations:

November 2017, Facilitated discussion at the National Numeracy Network Conference in New York, NY.
Title: “Assessing student learning in the newly-formed courses in quantitative literacy at Michigan State University”

January 2017, Paper presentation at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta, GA.
Title: “Athletes, education, and welfare: Problems that promote quantitative literacy and social justice”

August, 2016, Paper Presentation at the MathFest meeting in Columbus, OH.
Title: “Quantitative Literacy at MSU: Present and Future Work”

Papers under review:

Tunstall, S. L., Matz, B., & Craig, J. (Under review). Quantitative literacy courses as a space for fusing literacies. Journal of General Education.

Tunstall, S. L., Edwards, R., Melfi, V., & Ording, G. (Under review). The two-way street: Connecting general education science and mathematics courses at Michigan State University. PRIMUS.

Published papers:

Craig, J., & Tunstall, S. L. (2016). Crossing the literacy/quantitative literacy border. In M. B. Wood, E. E. Turner, M. Civil, & J. A. Eli (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (pp. 1087-1090). Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona.

Tunstall, S. L., Melfi, V., Craig, J., Edwards, R., Krause, A., Wassink, B, & Piercey, V. (2016). Quantitative Literacy at Michigan State University, 3: Designing General Education Mathematics Courses. Numeracy, 9(2).

Gilliland, D., Melfi, V., Sikorskii, A., Corcoran, E., & Melfi, E. (2011). Quantitative literacy at Michigan State University, 2: Connection to financial literacy. Numeracy, 4(2).

Sikorskii, A., Melfi, V., Gilliland, D., Kaplan, J., & Ahn, S. (2011). Quantitative literacy at Michigan State University, 1: Development and initial evaluation of the assessment. Numeracy, 4(2).


QL Project Photo Collage Fall 2016