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Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum

In mathematics, know-how is much more important than mere possession of information. What is know-how in mathematics? The ability to solve problems—not merely routine problems but problems requiring some degree of independence, judgment, originality, creativity.
George Polya

This three-year project (2005-2008) invited faculty from community colleges, liberal arts colleges, and research universities to pilot spreadsheet modules aimed at enhancing students' quantitative literacy skills across the curriculum.

The impetus for this project was based on faculty response to the modules for geological–mathematical problem solving developed by Len Vacher, a geologist from the University of South Florida.

As a result of this project, 81 modules were developed for a broad range of disciplines, including geology, chemistry, engineering, economics, natural sciences, and social sciences. Each module includes a short PowerPoint presentation to guide students in how to build a spreadsheet to solve mathematical problems related to the content of their coursework. These modules can be used as homework activities, laboratory-type group experiences, and interactive, computer-enhanced lectures.

The modules are available for any teacher to use on the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) website. Additional background information about the Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum project, as well as resources on quantitative literacy and mathematics, are also available on this site. Several articles about the project have been published in Numeracy, as well as in other journals.

This work was funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Sample modules

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