The Quantitative Reasoning Program at Hollins University pp. 41-50By Caren Diefenderfer, Ruth Doan and Christina Salowey
Current Practices in Quantitative Literacy
MAA Notes
(No. 70)
Online ISBN: 9780883859780
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5948/UPO9780883859780.008
Subjects: Recreational mathematics |
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Introduction
An intelligent citizen reads a newspaper account of an outbreak of disease in a small community. How can she tell if the number of those afflicted looms out of proportion to the expected incidence of disease? A parent must choose whether or not his child will receive a smallpox vaccine. How can he evaluate the benefits and the risks of such an inoculation? An employer asks an employee to develop a profile of the local population to provide a foundation for a marketing campaign. How can the employee assess the significance of distributions of age, race, gender, or other categories in the population? In order to become effective citizens, workers, parents, advocates, indeed in order to perform a great variety of roles, students must become competent in using and reading quantitative data, in understanding quantitative evidence and in applying basic quantitative and mathematical skills so that they can solve real life problems. Lynn Steen, past president of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) notes, “Quantitatively literate citizens need to know more than formulas and equations. They need a predisposition to look at the world through mathematical eyes, to see the benefits (and risks) of thinking quantitatively about commonplace issues, and to approach complex problems with confidence in the value of careful reasoning. Quantitative literacy empowers people by giving them tools to think for themselves, to ask intelligent questions of experts, and to confront authority confidently. These are skills required to thrive in the modern world.”