QR Activities

The following activities can be either be given to students in class or be given as take home assignments. Each activity exercises different aspects of quantitative reasoning. A powerpoint and word document is also provided with the activities below. 

Many of the learning objectives are based off the Association of America Colleges and University’s Quantitative Literacy VALUE Rubric

The Quantitative Literacy VALUE Rubric is excerpted with permission from Assessing Outcomes and Improving Achievement: Tips and tools for Using Rubrics, edited by Terrel L. Rhodes. Copyright 2010 by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Metrocard Bonuses – Getting a Fare Deal

Description: In this activity, students will use quantitative reasoning skills to to analyze the MTA’s MetroCard bonus system.  Students will work with percentages and remainders in their calculations and will find the optimal amount to pay for a MetroCard using both tables and algebraic expressions.

Learning Objectives: Students will be able to perform the appropriate calculations to analyze the MTA’s MetroCard bonus system and determine a solution to a practical everyday problem.

Suggested Courses: Urban Life: Personal and Observational View (URBS 10100), Urban Sociology (SOC 21100), Introduction to Public Policy (PUPOL 10000), Urban Geography (GEOG 24300)

Police Killings by Race – Faulty Statistics in the Media

Description: In this activity, students will watch a short video in which Bill O’Reilly (on his show The O’Reilly Factor) presents descriptive statistics of police killings of Blacks vs. Whites. Students will critique the argument Bill O’Reilly makes and point out the flaws in how the data was represented. Students will also evaluate data from the website mappingpoliceviolence.org and compare and contrast this data to the statistics O’Reilly presented to create a counter-argument.

Learning Objectives: Students will be able to discuss and debate the conclusions that can be drawn from the statistics presented on a popular TV show; students will also be able to calculate and interpret quantitative evidence in support or against a political argument.

Suggested Courses: Introduction to Black Politics (AFPRL101), African-American Politics of Social Change (AFPRL205), Myths & Images in the Media (FILM332), Political Sociology(SOC213), Ethnic & Race Relations (SOC217), Mass Media, Communication & Public Opinion (SOC259), Social Psychology (PSYCH230)

Qualitative Line Graphs

Description: In this activity, students are given a collection of scenarios to which they match a corresponding qualitative graph. Additionally, students are expected to produce their own qualitative graphs. By working through the activities, students begin analyzing graphs with simple relationships and build up to reasoning about more complex relationships. 

Learning Objectives: Students will be able to explain information presented to them in a graphical format. Additionally, students will be able to convert information into a mathematical graph.

Car Loans (Interest Rates)

Description: In this activity, students will calculate interest rate payments for their dream car. 

Learning Objectives: Students will learn to gather necessary information to interpret a problem. In addition, the main learning objective is that students will be able to identify the mathematical relationship between various quantities in order to look back and answer the question “does this answer make sense?” After learning to make necessary calculations for amortization tables, they will then make decisions based on analytical reasoning. By extension, students will learn how to use interest rates in financial situations.

Planned Parenthood – Misleading Graph

Description: Students will watch a video in which a member of Congress presents a misleading graph about Planned Parenthood to the CEO of Planned Parenthood during a Congressional committee hearing. Students will then identify what is wrong with the graph that causes it to be misleading and suggest changes to the graph so it is more accurate.

Learning Objectives: Students will be able to critique, suggest changes to, and discuss the interpretations of a misleading graph that was shown during a congressional committee hearing on Planned Parenthood.

Suggested Courses: Women’s Health (NURS340), Women & Gender in Western Political Thought (POLSC209), Women & The Law (POLSC219), Body Politics: Sexuality & Reproduction (WGS400.53), Women Stories & Reproductive Rights (WGS200.59), Women and Health (WGS251)

 Prisoner’s Dilemma

Description: Students will be presented the classical prisoner’s dilemma from game theory. They will be asked to create a diagram explaining the options the prisoners have. They are then asked to discuss these different scenarios and reason what they believe to be the optimal strategy.

Learning Objectives: Students will be able to convert information into a mathematical diagram. They will also make/communicate judgments and draw appropriate conclusions based on the quantitative analysis of data.

Diseases, Deaths & Donations

Description: Students will be presented with an infographic displaying the diseases we donate to vs. the number of people that die from those diseases. They will discuss what is misleading about the infographic and how to fix it, as well as discuss the biases of the site (Vox.com) that created the infographic.

Learning Objectives: Students will be able to critically analyze a graph, explain how this graph (and many others) can be misleading, and develop suggestions of how the graph could be more accurately portrayed.

Suggested Courses: Controversial Issues in Health (COMHE200), Politics of Public Budgeting (POLSC323), Health Psychology (PSYCH242), Mass Media, Communication & Public Opinion (SOC259)

Processed Meat and Smoking as Carcinogens

Description:The World Health Organization has declared processed meat as a carcinogen. The article titled Processed meats rank alongside smoking as cancer causes- WHO by Sarah Boseley compares the cancerous effects of processed meat to those of smoking. In this activity, we will directly analyze the effects of these two carcinogens.

Learning Objectives: Students will make judgments and draw appropriate conclusions based on the quantitative analysis of data presented from different sources. Students will also evaluate important assumptions in estimation and data analysis. Students will quantitatively interpret information from the media.

Correlation vs. Causation

Description: Gives a few examples of correlational and causal relationships, with the purpose of teaching students the difference between the two.

Objective: Students will identify whether a relationship between two quantities is correlational or causal. This will in turn teach students to express quantitative evidence (or lack thereof) in support (or in opposition) of an argument in terms of statistical evidence and how it is contextualized.

Probability Basics

Description: Basic concepts of probability are important for use in many courses.  The following, while by no means an exhaustive introduction, attempts to introduce some of the basic definitions and rules of probability so that students are comfortable with concepts and basic calculations.

Objective: Students will be able to understand basic concepts of probability. Students will be able to perform basic probability calculations such as calculating joint probabilities.

Misleading and Ambiguous Statistics

Description:  In this activity, students will get practice in dealing with issues of data sampling and graphing.

Objective: Students will be able to discern how data sampling and graphical representation can be used in a misleading or ambiguous manner.  Students will be able to prescribe solutions to some common sampling and graphing problems.

Suggested Courses: American Government: A Historical Introduction (POLSC 11000),  The United States from the Civil War Era to the Present (HIST 15200),

Additional activities provided as Word Document downloads: 


Information in the Media – Recognizing Misused and Ambiguous Statistics
Instructor Led Activity

Taxable Income – Critical Analysis of Graphs, Different Scaling Sends Different Messages
Instructor Led Activity
Student Exercise Handout

Applying Probability and Decision Errors to Health
Student Exercise Handout


Content Analysis – Objectively and Systematically Identifying Messages in the Media
Instructor Led Activity

Tipping in NYC Cabs – An Exercise in Graphing, Percentages, and Critical Analysis of Graphs
Instructor Led Activity
Student Exercise Handout