RCIDIV 222 - Quantitatively Speaking
Section: 001
Term: WN 2010
Subject: RC Interdivisional (RCIDIV)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
BS, ID, QR/1
Waitlist Capacity:
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

What is "quantitative reasoning" and how does such reasoning differ in form and content from other types of reasoning? This course is neither a traditional math course nor the usual statistics course, but includes aspects from both areas. This course, intended mainly for first and second year students, includes a rigorous and critical introduction to various modes of quantitative reasoning, while maintaining accessibility for students in all fields. The majority of topics, however, are drawn from the social sciences. There are no formal prerequisites for this course, but students should have completed at least three years of high school mathematics. This course also provides a strong quantitative background for social science majors and their later required statistics courses.

We begin with a discussion of what is typically meant by "quantitative reasoning," and then focus on how such reasoning is implemented (sometimes appropriately, sometimes not). One of the main goals of the course is to learn "basic survival skills" for today's number-intensive world. Using Best’s Damned Lies and Statistics and Huff's How To Lie With Statistics, we learn how to critique conclusions drawn from a survey, a graph, or a table of numbers. We explore how statistics can reveal underlying linguistic patterns in prose and poetry, explore some of the vast research literature on gender and race differences (including gender differences in attitudes toward love), and read books like Gould's The Mismeasure of Man and Levitt & Dubner’s Freakonomics.

The workload for this course is heavy at times, but the focus is on keeping the material accessible to all students. Requirements include regular readings from books & course pack, and a take-home midterm exam. In addition, students are expected to

  1. maintain an annotated portfolio of articles, graphs, etc., that reflects responsible and irresponsible uses of quantitative information;
  2. complete a series of brief assignments that practice the presentation and interpretation of statistical output, and
  3. complete a final research project. For the final project, students select a topic of interest to them for further reading and discussion.

For more information, contact the instructor (dtburkam@umich.edu).

RCIDIV 222 - Quantitatively Speaking
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
MTuWTh 10:00AM - 11:00AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9780520219786
Damned lies and statistics : untangling numbers from the media, politicians, and activists, Author: Best, Joel., Publisher: University of California Press 2001
ISBN: 9780520238305
More damned lies and statistics : how numbers confuse public issues, Author: Best, Joel., Publisher: University of California Press 2004
ISBN: 9780393039726
The mismeasure of man, Publisher: W.W. Norton 2008
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9780060731328
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything, Author: Levitt, Steven D., Publisher: William Morrow 2005
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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