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Math and Quantitative Reasoning

Belmont’s General Education requirements for the BELL Core Quantitative Reasoning courses are different from similar requirements at most other universities. At many universities, students take typical algebra, calculus, or sometimes programming courses to fulfill their general education mathematics requirement. In our BELL Core, we take a different path: instead, we ask that each student complete a course specifically designed to align with Belmont’s overall General Education goals. These courses present a richer view of quantitative reasoning than typical algebra and calculus course by exposing students to logic, in-depth problem solving, and modern topics in mathematics and computing.

The specific BELL Core QR requirement (with rare exception for one or two programs) is that each student must complete one of the following three courses in their first 60 hours of study:

• MTH 1020: Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning
• MTH 1080: Mathematical Inquiry, or 
• CSC 1020: Inquiry through Computer Science

Why is Belmont’s requirement so different from many other universities’ mathematics general education requirements?

We believe that our BELL Core QR courses — MTH 1020, MTH 1080, and CSC 1020 — perform well in our general education curriculum. Here’s why:

1. Our BELL Core QR courses are more closely aligned with Belmont’s General Education goals than a typical course in algebra, calculus, or programming.  In particular, we believe that these courses do a superior job at helping students reach the following General Education Learning Goals:

• Developing skills in effective writing; recognizing, evaluating, and constructing written arguments; and effective use of technology
• Developing an understanding of the conceptual frameworks and achievements in the natural sciences
• Developing an understanding of the complex nature of the world, including the consequences of individual decisions in an interdependent world

2. Our BELL Core QR courses focus on skills (problem solving and logic in particular) that are more directly applicable and transferable beyond the classroom than would be true for algebra and calculus skills for most students. 

3. Our Bell Core QR Courses incorporate more of an element of true quantitative reasoning than would algebra, calculus, or introductory programming, courses which typically focus on symbolic manipulation. Quantitative reasoning, broadly conceived, includes more than just skill at calculation; it includes the propensity and ability to use quantitative information to support sound decision-making. 

4. Our Bell Core QR courses lend themselves to inclusion of accessible and relevant modern topics. That such a thing is desirable is suggested both by our own General Education Learning Goals (noted above) and curriculum recommendations from the professional societies in mathematics and computing.  Even mathematics majors report that they benefited from our BELL Core QR courses and feel they are a valuable part of their curriculum. We think this speaks to the richness of the experience we have created for students in these courses.

5. Our Bell Core QR courses are better aligned with recent curriculum guidelines from professional organizations in mathematics and computing than typical courses in algebra, calculus, and programming. 

Which of the three BELL Core QR Courses should I take?

As with any college-level mathematics course, choosing the correct BELL Core course is important. Students want to take care to match their previous experiences and preparation in mathematics and their interests to one of the three courses. It is as important to choose a course that is challenging enough as it is to choose a course that is not too challenging.

At Belmont, our first criterion for placement is a Math ACT or Math SAT score; students without ACT/SAT scores, or who believe their ACT/SAT scores do not place them correctly, are welcome to take our Mathematics Placement Test. The specific placement requirements for the courses are:

• MTH 1020—No placement requirements; open to all; however, we strongly recommend that any student with a Math ACT of 25 or higher, or a Math SAT of 570 or higher, enroll in MTH 1080 or CSC 1020
• MTH 1080—Math ACT of 25 or higher; Math SAT of 570 or higher
• CSC 1020—Math ACT of 22 or higher; Math SAT of 520 or higher

Speaking just of MTH 1020 and MTH 1080 for now, in general, we recommend that all students take the highest math class for which they qualify. MTH 1020 and MTH 1080 are similar in design philosophy, but they differ in intended audience, and, to a lesser degree, in content. Students who are prepared for MTH 1080 are likely not to be sufficiently challenged in MTH 1020; consequently, such students may end up feeling bored or unsatisfied with their mathematics course if they choose MTH 1020.

Any student with an interest in computing and with the proper prerequisites should consider taking CSC 1020. CSC 1020 is designed to teach logic and problem-solving skills though a broad look at computing, including both introductory programming and also general computing concepts and the impact of computing on society. CSC 1020 can serve as a good way for a student to explore a potential major or minor in a computing discipline -- several past CSC 1020 students have become computer science majors.

What transfer courses will satisfy my BELL Core QR requirement?

If you wish to transfer a course in as your BELL Core QR credit, then (unless you begin your studies at Belmont as a transfer student with 30 or more hours of transfer credit) you will need to find a course equivalent to our MTH 1020, MTH 1080, or CSC 1020. Because of their unique designs, it is very difficult to find courses at other institutions that are equivalent to MTH 1080 or CSC 1020. However, many institutions offer courses similar in content and approach to our MTH 1020. Look for courses with titles like “Math for Liberal Arts” or, sometimes, “Mathematical Reasoning.” As always, seek prior approval from the Mathematics & Computer Science Department before taking any course which you hope to transfer in as your BELL Core QR course.