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Activity Number: 17
Type: Topic Contributed
Date/Time: Sunday, August 6, 2006 : 2:00 PM to 3:50 PM
Sponsor: Section on Statistical Education
Abstract - #306686
Title: Quirks of Rhetoric: a Quantitative Analysis of Quantitative Reasoning in Student Writing
Author(s): Neil Lutsky*+ and Scott Bierman
Companies: Carleton College and Carleton College
Address: 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN, 55057,
Keywords: quantitative reasoning ; education ; undergraduate ; statistics

We analyzed quantitative reasoning (QR) in a random sample of 200 student papers submitted to meet a college writing portfolio requirement. Each paper was coded for the potential relevance of QR; the degree to which QR was employed; the quality of the implementation, communication, and interpretation of QR shown; and other content features (e.g., presence of graphics, uses of terminology). Findings suggested QR was judged centrally relevant to 36% of all papers (primarily lab reports) and peripherally relevant to another 28%. However, QR was used electively to provide peripheral details in only 12% of all potential instances. Instead, students either failed to cite quantitative information or relied on vague quasi-quantitative terms (e.g., many). We identify implications of these results for efforts to address QR across the undergraduate curriculum.

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