The Quantitative and Formal Reasoning Committee administers this requirement.
This requirement is designed to empower students to be able to use quantitative and formal reasoning in their academic and professional work, as well as in their personal lives. Courses carrying the Quantitative and Formal Reasoning (QFR) designation aim to help students develop the ability to use tools, algorithms, or strategies to solve problems, make decisions, or evaluate evidence, and to equip students with the ability to formally evaluate models or sets of evidence. QFR courses emphasize developing and evaluating assumptions, organizing and structuring data, and conducting analyses to make sound judgments and conclusions. QFR courses often focus on quantitative data, but the hallmark of QFR is the application of formal logic and explicit rules for decision-making.
As noted in the Graduation requirements for the The College of Arts and Sciences of this catalog, the quantitative and formal reasoning requirement is as follows:
Students are required to complete two QFR courses, at least one of which must be completed by the end of the 4th semester (6th semester for Double Degree students). This requirement can only be satisfied with courses completed at Oberlin College. Transfer students may petition to count one transferred course with a comparable focus on quantitative and formal reasoning toward this requirement.
In QFR courses, students spend a substantial amount of course time developing the ability to use tools, algorithms, or strategies to solve problems, make decisions, or evaluate evidence. Examples include: organizing and graphing data, performing and interpreting statistical tests, designing experiments and observational studies, and developing formal models (logical, computational, mathematical, or statistical). QFR skills also include formally critiquing and testing models and arguments and understanding the type of evidence needed to adequately evaluate them.
Criteria for QFR courses
- Courses must explicitly include QFR content, as evidenced by one or more QFR competencies: organizing and graphing data; developing a computer model; performing statistical tests and inferring conclusions from them; designing an experimental or observational study or formal logical model; generating alternative hypotheses and deducing predictions from them; debugging a program; testing the limits of a computational model; assessing the accuracy of a graph; and recognizing and evaluating assumptions embedded in experimental design.
- Students must be asked to demonstrate and use QFR reasoning as part of the work of the course. Reading assignments on or demonstrations of QFR reasoning alone are not sufficient.
- At least one third of students’ grades must be based on QFR skills. These grades can come from hands-on projects (e.g., doing problem sets, writing programs, designing studies, generating and evaluating data, formally critiquing empirical studies), as well as from exam questions that explicitly evaluate such skills (e.g., questions that require induction or deduction, questions that require critical evaluation of the available empirical support for a specific hypothesis or theory, etc.).