Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, May 26, 2018

Survey says students lack quantitative skills

AU is forming plans to address negative feedback in regard to students’ math education.

“The census results are not so bad,” said Mieke Meurs, associate dean of graduate studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. “But they are less than what we would like.”

The feedback was received through the May 2012 Graduate Census, which is given to all undergraduate seniors at the time of their graduation.

When asked if AU developed students’ “quantitative skills,” 60 percent of students answered “well” or “very well,” according to Maralee Csellar, associate director of media relations.

The term “quantitative skills” has several definitions, including a person’s ability to analyze data or the use of general math skills, according to Meurs.

Provost Scott Bass appointed Meurs to be chairwoman of a task force intended to examine AU’s current courses, collect data on students’ learning outcomes in the area of quantitative skills and suggest possible changes.

The tasks force also looks into course requirements of different programs. For example, a literature major may not be prioritizing classes that emphasize quantitative skills, Meurs said. Some majors may not need more quantitative math courses while other majors may need more of them.

Bass asked that the task force submit a report by the end of the semester summarizing the group’s finding and any suggestions that they may have, according to Meurs.

The task force has begun to collect data on how AU and other schools teach quantitative skills, according to Meurs. She said AU wants to make sure that its course offerings are similar to those of other institutions.

“I would love to have more information about what alumni think,” Meurs said.

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