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Bloomin’ Innumeracy

Each semester I start my class off with a short article on Innumeracy, Why American Consumers Can’t Add.  It’s from 2009 but the information is still relevant today, especially the message the “there is a hidden epidemic in our country, innumeracy, and the consequences are dire.”  I assign a new article each week, and require my students to submit 3 questions and answers based on the reading (they also read Joel Best’s book, Damned Lies and Statistics).  In the past I have struggled with grading these Q&A’s as some students “game the system” and ask overly simplistic questions, while others craft deep insightful questions.  This year my new colleague and Lecturer in QR had the great idea to introduce Bloom’s Taxonomy to our classes and require them to create questions beyond the first level:


I got this image from Vanderbilt’s website which also has a nice description of the taxonomy and its history.  So now if a student only asks questions like: “What percentage of adults are “proficient” with respect to QL?” they will receive 8 out of 10 points.  To get 10 out of 10 they need to move beyond these basic recall, or find and repeat questions, to the higher levels of comprehension, application and analysis.

Here are my quiz questions, I will let you classify them and give me a grade yourself!

Q1 Innumeracy

 Please answer the following questions and bring hard copy to class.  Try to show your computational work as best as possible.

  1. In a class of 35 college students approximately how many could you expect to be “proficient” at math?
  2. A 20% tip is how much more than a 15% tip? Hint: This one is tricky (which isn’t much of a hint but you get the idea).
    • 5% more
    • 17% more
    • 25% more
    • 33% more
  3. If a person borrows $300 at the beginning of the month and promises to pay back $350 on payday at the end of the month, what is their monthly interest rate? What is the associated APR of this payday loan?
  4. Compute the amount of money US adults spend each year on getting tax preparation help for the 1040 EZ form (the information you need is in the article!).
  5. If some statistics are “born bad”, as Joel Best puts it, and others mutate to become bad; then why do we continue to use statistics?
  6. Does the doubling of childhood gunshot deaths from 1950 to 1994 mean our society has become more violent? Explain!
  7. What does Joel Best propose as the solution to bad statistics?


3 thoughts on “Bloomin’ Innumeracy

  1. The link to the article on Innumeracy doesn’t work. Do you have another?

    Thank you!


    Posted by Carrie Whittle | November 7, 2016, 5:10 pm

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