Presentation #507.06 in the session “Engaging Our Communities”.
General education science courses, including introductory astronomy, are often the last formal opportunity for undergraduate students to develop their knowledge, skills, and attitudes in quantitative reasoning (QR). As enrollments in introductory astronomy, planetary science, and geology courses remain high, they represent ideal environments for students to develop “real world” numerical skills; which have broad and life-long impacts, as quantitative skills have been tied to a number of important competencies. The Quantitative Reasoning for College Science (QuaRCS) Assessment was developed to assess undergraduate students’ knowledge of basic quantitative skills, as well as attitudinal and affective variables related to math (e.g. math anxiety). Through repeated field testing and revision, the QuaRCS has been refined and validated for use with undergraduate students in general education science courses. An abbreviated version (QuaRCS Light) has been shown to increase students’ overall effort level, while remaining a valid and reliable assessment. The QuaRCS and QuaRCS Light have been used to assess quantitative reasoning and affective variables, including numerical self-efficacy, numerical relevancy, and academic maturity, in almost 6,000 students across the US. New funding from the National Science Foundation is supporting revision of the QuaRCS to explore and improve the cultural competency of the assessment to better understand students at all types of institutions. Also included in this work is to build capacity for science instructors in teaching QR through the creation of a network of virtual faculty learning communities.