Student Resources

"… [U]ses of quantitative thinking in the workplace, in education and in nearly every field of human endeavor [are increasing]. Farmers use computers to find markets, analyze soil, and deliver controlled amounts of seed and nutrients; nurses use unit conversions to verity accuracy of drug dosages; sociologists draw inferences from data to understand human behavior; biologists develop computer algorithms to map the human genome; factory supervisors use “six-sigma” strategies to ensure quality control; entrepreneurs project markets and costs using computer spreadsheets; lawyers use statistical evidence and arguments involving probabilities to convince jurors. The roles played by numbers and data in contemporary society are virtually endless. … Unfortunately… many educated adults remain functionally innumerate… Common responses to this well-known problem are either to demand more years of … mathematics or more rigorous standards for graduation. Yet even individuals who have studied trigonometry and calculus often remain largely ignorant of common abuses of data and all too often find themselves unable to comprehend (much less articulate) the nuances of quantitative inferences. As it turns out, it is not calculus but numeracy that is the key to understanding our data drenched society. 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 the skills required to thrive in the modern world."

-Excerpted from The Case for Quantitative Literacy, Lynn Arthur Steen