Quantitative Reasoning: Tools for Today's Informed Citizen explores, in its 626 pages, basic mathematics concepts for everyday use. The book is broken up into three sections covering numerical reasoning, logical reasoning, and statistical reasoning. At first glance, that seems an intriguing choice, but it turns out to lead to confusion and a feeling of disconnection.
The first section includes topics such as charts and graphs, bivariate data, graphs of functions, modeling with linear and exponential functions and personal finances to name a few. The second section covers decision making, inductive and deductive reasoning, and apportionment. The last section contains averages, standard deviation and z-scores, probability, conditional probability, and sampling and surveys. Interestingly, there is no delineation between the sections in the text, that is, topic follows after topic without mentioning that the section was changed. Why have sections then?
The list of topics encompasses such a wide variety that none of the topics are covered in sufficient depth, especially since the text portion of the book ends on page 376. The rest of the book is dedicated to Excel activities linked to each section.
Many sections seem to have been written as standalone entities. Presumably they were then glued together to make a book. The reader never gets a feeling of flow from reading this book and the topics are ordered in a way that is not conducive to create that flow. While the book is readable at the level the authors indicate, it contains too many mathematical inaccuracies to be taken as a textbook for a college course.
Most topics are introduced in a two to three paragraph section and then one or two examples are given before the next topic is introduced. Important terms are typed in bold face and are explained, sometimes without the benefit of examples. There are sufficiently many exercises, called explorations, at the end of each section.
The highlight of the book are the "Activities" that are included; they are very detailed and comprise roughly 40% of the book. Theses activities are Excel based examples that help clarify the topics under investigation and provide a welcome complement to the lecture part of the book. The activities are geared toward students with little or no experience in using Excel and help put the topics addressed in the book into an applicable framework for most students.
Kai Brunkalla teaches at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio.