A Quantitative Reasoning Approach to Algebra Using Inquiry-Based Learning

Numeracy, Sep 2018

In this paper, I share a hybrid quantitative reasoning/algebra two-course sequence that challenges the common assumption that quantitative literacy and reasoning are less rigorous mathematics alternatives to algebra and illustrates that a quantitative reasoning framework can be used to teach traditional algebra. The presentation is made in two parts. In the first part, which is somewhat philosophical and theoretical, I explain my personal perspective of what I mean by “algebra” and “doing algebra.” I contend that algebra is a form of communication whose value is precision, which allows us to perform algebraic manipulations in the form of simplification and solving moves. A quantitative reasoning approach to traditional algebraic manipulations rests on intentional and purposeful use of simplification and solving moves within contextual situations. In part 2, I describe a 6-week instructional module intended for undergraduate business students that was delivered to students who had placed into beginning algebra. The perspective described in part 1 heavily informed the design of this module. The course materials, which involve the use of Excel in multiple authentic contexts, are built around the use of inquiry-based learning. Upon completion of this module, the percentage of students who successfully complete model problems in an assessment is in the same range as surveyed students in precalculus and calculus, approximately two “grade levels” ahead of their placement.

This is a preview of a remote PDF: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1246&context=numeracy

Victor I Piercey. A Quantitative Reasoning Approach to Algebra Using Inquiry-Based Learning, Numeracy, 2017,