Assessing College Students' Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning: The James Madison University Story
Quantitative and scientific reasoning is a critical student learning outcome in higher education. Data are presented for large samples of undergraduate students who were assessed as entering freshmen and then again after completing 45-70 credit hours. Results are presented around four key issues that are central to educational assessment. First, entering freshmen with transfer credits for quantitative and scientific reasoning courses that fulfill general education requirements, on average,
... s, on average, score similar to entering freshmen without such credit. About 97% of entering freshmen who had transfer credits received their credits through dual enrollment programs. As a sophomore-junior, students who had completed their general education requirements performed similar to students who had started, but not yet finished these requirements. Second, small to moderate correlations were observed between grade-point averages in relevant general education coursework and quantitative and scientific reasoning. Third, students' quantitative and scientific reasoning, on average, increases from freshmen to sophomore/junior years. Finally, the proportion of students who meet faculty-set standards substantially increases from pre-test to post-test. Taken together, results suggest that changes in quantitative and scientific reasoning are a function of relevant courses. Additional research is needed to examine the role of lower-level versus higher-level courses in student performance. Results also indicate a need to investigate how differences in the quality of dual enrollment courses facilitate quantitative and scientific reasoning.