Quantitative reasoning added to requirements

A new general education requirement in mathematical problem solving will be added in fall 2017.


The proposal for the new general education requirement focused on quantitative reasoning was passed by the Faculty Senate March 27, becoming the fourth University-wide requirement needed to graduate.   


The idea of adding five new University-wide general education requirements, in addition to the current diversity requirement, was issued by President Tom Sullivan in 2014, according to the fall 2014 issue of the Vermont Quarterly.


Since then, two more requirements have been added: foundational writing and information literacy in 2014, and sustainability in 2015, according to their respective websites.  


“I am pleased with the Faculty Senate’s leadership decision to implement quantitative reasoning as our fourth General Education requirement at UVM,” Sullivan said. “It very much will be complementary to the other three requirements, and will round out our students’ educational experience.”


Quantitative reasoning is described as the ability to interpret and use mathematical models symbolically, visually, numerically and verbally, according to the Mathematical Association of America.


Joan Rosebush, a senior lecturer in the mathematics and statistics department, chaired the committee that designed the new requirement.


“This requirement is intended to assure that graduates of UVM possess the ability to think critically, evaluate information and reason quantitatively in order to excel in their chosen field and to perform as successful citizens in the world,” Rosebush said.


A single course in MATH 009 or above, STAT 052 or above, CS 008 or above or PHIL 013 would fulfill this new requirement, according to a March 3 Faculty Senate memo.  


There should be no additional staff, resources or budget needs to accommodate this change, as the University already offers enough courses to accommodate students fulfilling this requirement.  


This requirement will not apply to current students, Faculty Senate President Cathy Paris said.


If approved by the board of trustees, the requirement will go into effect for the class entering in the fall of 2017, she said.


These courses are predicted to overlap with the general requirements of most existing majors, which will help a majority of students fulfil this requirement easily.


Human development and family studies, art education and music education are the only majors to not include specific quantitative reasoning courses, according to a curricular affairs committee memo.


All three majors have agreed to revise their programs to ensure students will be able to fulfill this requirement, the memo stated.


With the addition of this fourth requirement, a new committee on general education requirements is in the process of being formed within the faculty senate.


This committee will address requirement issues that arise, such as the transfer of AP transfer credits.


With the addition of more required courses, some raised concern over the limited freedom of students to explore other courses in their majors.


Plant biology professor Brian Beckage expressed fear that students will be continually limited by required courses and have less opportunity to decide what they want to do.


“It’d be tough adding another requirement that students have to take on top of everything else already required,” sophomore Jeff Schindler said. “But I think it’d add a lot for people who do not have that particular background knowledge.”