What is Quantitative Literacy?
Most people understand illiteracy as the inability to read, but what is the parallel definition for innumeracy or quantitative illiteracy?
In an increasingly numbers-drenched society, it’s a question that many scholars are trying to answer so they can find ways to move more people beyond the starting point.
“Statistical literacy, quantitative literacy, numeracy --Under the hood, it is what do we want people to be able to do: Read tables and graphs and understand English statements that have numbers in them. That’s a good start,” said Milo Schield, a professor of statistics at Augsburg College and a vice president of the National Numeracy Network.
Shield was dismayed to find that, in a survey of his new students, 44 percent could not read a simple 100 percent row table and about a quarter could not accurately interpret a scatter plot of adult heights and weights.
At many colleges, it’s possible for students with high entrance exam scores and language or arts-related majors to go through four years of college and not take any math or quantitative courses, he said.
The answer for these students may not be found on the calculus track, he said. But they would benefit from more training in how to make sense of simple math in various contexts, so they can better understand the newspaper and policy debates and so they can make smarter choices about their mortgages.
He thinks that quantitative literacy should be incorporated across the curriculum, just like writing, so that the skills of analyzing data and talking about numbers are embedded in other courses or they should be taught in a stand-alone course for non-quantitative majors.
How would you define the baseline for quantitative literacy that all people should have? Where does Algebra fit into that?
Posted by: ajax1992 | February 8, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse
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