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IMPACTful Blog - Quantitative Reasoning

By Rick Powers posted 03-08-2024 19:06:19


Quantitative reasoning (QR) is often associated with mathematics and science courses, but it goes beyond those areas. Colleges and universities are integrating QR skills into various academic settings, from the humanities to the arts. In this blog post, we explore how institutions like Wellesley, Millikin, and Carleton are expanding the reach of QR education by offering courses in unconventional disciplines.

Wellesley College has a foundational QR requirement, coupled with a Data Literacy (DL) requirement (  One of the latter courses is “Network Analysis for Art History,” where students are doing the following: “Combining analytical readings with hands-on tutorials, this course introduces students to the conceptual and technical frameworks of network analysis as they apply to artifacts, works of art, and popular visual culture, as well as the people who made and experienced these images, objects, and monuments.” 

Millikin University includes, in their QR requirement, courses in music theory, as well as this course in the theater department, “Technical Direction”: “This class builds on the skills learned in Scenic Construction, advancing a student’s skills in scenic construction, drafting, rigging, and problem solving. Through lectures and hands-on participation, this class also provides an introduction to structural and mechanical analysis, budgeting, and scenery automation.” (

Carleton College has a long-standing commitment to QR education, with their QuIRK Initiative from the early 2000’s (  As a result, their course listing for QR is substantial in math, natural science, and social science.  Beyond those areas, QR-fulfilling course work is done in digital arts, history, music, philosophy, and religion.  Carleton also has a QR Center, which supports faculty across the curriculum (  There is also a great resource page for developing QR, developed by Nathan Grawe, as a part of the college Web presence (

These examples demonstrate the wealth of interdisciplinary contexts that are available for QR.  There is a dynamic power in bringing creativity and computation together, which can be powerful in developing student engagement, retention, and success in our courses. 

Your comments and suggestions are welcome -- please join our conversation with your experiences related to this topic.



03-09-2024 13:08:19

Hi Jillian:  Thanks much for your note.  This can be connected to other discussions we have had on this site of tutoring centers and student support -- there is also a need for faculty support, outside of the math department, regarding best practices for addressing quantitative skills and attitudes.  A tutoring center could be a catalyst for such support.

03-09-2024 07:19:15

How cool is the idea of a Quantitative Resource Center for faculty?! I do a good bit of interdisciplinary work and SO MANY FACULTY in other disciplines WANT support with the quantitative skills they and their students need in their courses! LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!!!