Leveraging the Physics Inventory of Quantitative Literacy to Assess Reasoning in STEM Courses

Suzanne White Brahmia
Associate Professor
University of Washington

Productive mathematical sensemaking is a habit of mind common to students who are successful in learning many science disciplines. It underpins introductory physics and chemistry, and plays a significant role in other science courses. Currently, there are very few validated assessment tools for instructors interested in adapting their instruction to incorporate the mathematical sensemaking associated with quantitative scientific reasoning. This workshop introduces one that was developed in the context of the algebraic reasoning that is ubiquitous in physics. The Physics Inventory of Quantitative Literacy (PIQL) is a new research-validated instrument for assessing mathematical sensemaking that is foundational to introductory physics. The PIQL is designed for instructors to assess their efforts to help their students develop quantitative literacy. The reasoning assessed is commonly used in many science disciplines. It is based on familiar contexts, and on mathematics at the pre-calculus level. Participants will engage in collaborative activities to clarify the kind of reasoning that is being assessed on the PIQL, and identify ways in which it is important in their own disciplines. Participants will then identify assessable learning objectives related to quantitative literacy within their own courses. The workshop will finish with participants brainstorming methods for determining the extent to which these learning objectives are being met through instruction.