Read through the following portions from 2 articles and write down:
  1. items that you agreed with (if any)
  2. items that you disagreed with (if any)
  3. items that surprised you (if any)
  4. the most compelling reason(s) to reduce the hours of mathematics / quantitative literacy that is listed in the articles
  5. the most compelling reason(s) to keep or increase the hours that is listed in the articles
  6. what are your thoughts about whether Appalachian should reduce the quantitative literacy requirements?

Portions taken from a Resource Prepared by the Center for the Study of Mathematics Curriculum. A report was commissioned in 1932 and published on the eve of World War II in 1940. Within the growing national concern over the threat to democracy, the status of mathematics in the secondary curriculum was being questioned. The goal of the Progressive Education Association (PEA) committee was to examine "the study and teaching of mathematics for their value in relation to the whole process of general education" (p. vi). Among other concerns were a sharp decline in the number of students enrolling in mathematics courses and perceived loss of relevancy of mathematics in the secondary schools. The committee was also concerned with the communication gap between mathematics and other disciplines. The purpose of general education is to provide rich and significant experiences in the major aspects of living, so directed as to promote the fullest possible realization of personal potentialities, and the most effective participation in a democratic society (p. 43) The underlying theme of the report paralleled the international political climate during the time period prior to World War II and reflected the urgency felt for the preservation of democracy. The committee desired that secondary schools produce students who could address real problems, value genuine solutions, collect and interpret data, not be deceived by inaccurate or misleading statistics, and recognize valid proof. It was believed that democracy allowed citizens to formulate problems, whereas a dictatorship did not. A democracy promoted the ability of people to think clearly about problems in a logical manner, and facilitate the free play of ideas promoting individualism. If these concepts were included in the general education curriculum it was believed democracy would persevere. Mathematics specifically should encourage the development of the following characteristics of democratic living:
  • Social sensitivity
  • Aesthetic appreciation
  • Tolerance
  • Cooperativeness
  • Self-direction
  • Creativeness
  • Ability to use reflective thinking

  • Portions taken from Meeting 21st Century Quantitative and Science Literacy Needs of Appalachian Students STEM Literacy in Higher Education is Necessary for Competitiveness and Innovation

    Few in higher education and industry would deny that the 21st century is an era of massive data, rapidly changing technology, and cutting-edge science. Government, industry, and academia are all stakeholders in higher education, and many groups have studied this issue. There are reports from local, state and national organizations that detail concerns regarding the potential for United States global competitiveness, such as Bringing Government, Corporations, Foundations and Educators Together to Improve STEM Education [1] and Rising Above the Gathering Storm [2]. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) literate students are noted as especially important for the health of the economy. As the White House cautioned: "The U.S. must ensure a continuous supply of highly trained STEM workers and a STEM literate population in order to maintain its global economic leadership" [3]. Mary Ann Rankin, President and CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative, explained the issue quite well when she said: "STEM is the oxygen we need to keep moving America forward. Our country simply must educate a more STEM-literate population to remain competitive"[4].

    Other groups and individuals have focused on the importance of STEM literacy for every student in higher education, not just those intending to enter STEM professions. Mathematician Lynn Steen emphasized the value of quantitative literacy at the college level because of "the increasing importance of quantitative data for each person's quality of life and for our collective well-being... for everyday issues of personal welfare, social decision-making, and the functioning of democratic society" [5]. In 2011, the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce examined 965 occupations, including many that are considered to be outside STEM [6]. Lorelle Espinosa, Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, summarized the conclusions:

    Through the report, one can readily see how training in STEM aligns with other abilities that also are in demand in and out of STEM jobs - abilities like deductive reasoning, mathematical reasoning and problem sensitivity - those "problem solving" and "analytical skills" that employers are increasingly criticizing our nation's higher education system for not providing its graduates. The STEM authors also point to the non-cognitive competencies associated with STEM, including realistic and investigative "work interests" and the STEM work values of achievement, independence and recognition.[7]

    Peer Institution and Community Colleges Requirements Exceed Appalachian's The sole rationale currently offered by the General Education Advisory Group for reducing Appalachian's mathematics and quantitative literacy (QL) requirements is to relieve transfer students who enter with 3 semester credit hours (SCH) from having to complete coursework for the necessary fourth credit. While it is true that many institutions offer 3 SCH general education mathematics courses, there is ample evidence that this is not the dominant model. For instance:
  • The mean QL requirement for 37 peer institutions is 4.125 SCH[11]. The North Carolina Community College (NCCCS) General Education Core, approved via the Articulation Agreement to fulfill all UNC institutions' core requirements, specifies 6 SCH minimum of mathematics- 3 SCH of MAT courses and an additional 3 SCH of QL courses [12], which already exceeds Appalachian's current requirement.
  • Other UNC schools, such as UNCW, have the same QL requirement as NCCCS.
  • A similar case can easily be made for science. The NCCCS General Education Core specifies 8 SHC minimum of natural science, further requiring a minimum of a two- course science sequence [13].

    To draw comparisons nationally, the California Community College System (CACCS) and Articulation Agreement have the following requirements : 3 units of mathematics and 9 units minimum of "Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning," plus 7-9 units of "Physical and Biological Sciences," for a total STEM requirement of 19- 21 units. For the transferable "Liberal Arts A.A. degree," the CACCS requires "a minimum of 18 units" with a specification of "at least one course [not SCH] in math" [14]. Thus, a reduction from four to three QL hours in the requirements would mean that Appalachian would fall even further behind in STEM literacy with weaker core requirements than community college systems.

    Philosophically and functionally, the goal of general education in higher education is... to "develop intellectual skills that will enhance your professional, civic,and personal life for years to come. You will learn how to analyze the world around you from different perspectives" [15]. As a university, we should be a leader in STEM education [16] and strive to devise streamlined procedures that meet our students' financial and time needs without sacrificing necessary educational rigor and compromising our stated mission as a university.


    [1] The National Math + Science Initiative. (2007). Bringing Government, Corporations, Foundations and Educators Together to Improve STEM Education.

    [2] National Academy of Sciences Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century: An Agenda for American Science and Technology, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine. (2007). Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future.

    [3] American Competitiveness Initiative. (2006). American Competitiveness Initiative: Leading the World in Innovation.

    [4] National Math + Science Initiative (2012). NMSI CEO Challenges STEM Summit to Make Teacher Training An Urgent Priority for the U.S.

    [5] Steen, L. (2004). Achieving Quantitative Literacy: An Urgent Challenge for Higher Education. Washington, DC: The Mathematical Association of America.

    [6] Carnevale, A., Smith, N., and Melton, M. (2011). STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown Public Policy Institute.

    [7] Espinosa, L. (2011). STEM Literacy Beyond STEM Occupations.

    [15] Appalachian State University. (2012). General Education Program.

    [16] Sanders, T. (2004). No Time to Waste: The Vital Role of College and University Leaders in Improving Science and Mathematics Education. United States Department of Education.