2020 CUES Spanning Boundaries Challenge

Developing Socially-Aware Quantitative Intuition 

Effective use of quantitative intuition (QI, 2019) - the ability to discern, apply, and communicate lessons from empirical evidence - must account for the individuals and social context underlying data in order to minimize inaccurate analyses and unintended consequences.  This project prepares students to apply QI in a socially-aware way by incorporating applied, interdisciplinary exercises into existing courses, and developing a yearly University-wide student competition that asks participants to apply QI skills to a specific “Grand Challenge” problem facing society.  Simultaneously, these activities will be carefully and rigorously evaluated to determine their effectiveness in developing QI skills, awareness, and confidence.  This project builds on existing CUES initiatives that develop interdisciplinary analysis skills through engagement with big problems, and contributes to the CUES mission by developing materials and best practices for instructors who seek to incorporate socially-aware QI activities in their curricula, creating opportunities for students across campus to engage in QI learning.

>>> Learn more about CUES Spanning Boundaries Challenge Grants

QI Spanning Boundaries Challenge 2020 Team

Headshot of Anne Boustead

Headshot of Victor Braitberg

Headshot of David Sidi


From left:

  • Anne Boustead, School of Government & Public Policy, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences 
  • Victor Braitberg, School of Anthropology, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, W.A. Franke Honors College
  • David Sidi, School of Information

QI Advisory Board

The CUES QI Advisory Board--comprised of leads & participants from the CUES Mapping Educational Challenges Workshop on QI, provides guidance for this project. 

  • Nadia Alvarez Mexia, Global Affairs, College of Education
  • Jonathan BeanCollege of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture
  • Christopher Griffin (Chair), College of Law
  • Hoshin GuptaCollege of Science
  • Susan SwanbergCollege of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Project Outcomes

The overarching goal of this project was to facilitate development of socially-aware quantitative intuition (QI) skills among UArizona students through experiential, interdisciplinary activities that provide the opportunity to engage with these skills in the context of “grand challenge” problems facing society today. Socially-aware QI skills allow individuals to instinctively derive, apply, and troubleshoot insights from quantitative evidence in a way that accounts for the individuals and social context underlying the data. This project contributed to QI learning at UArizona through the creation of experiential learning opportunities open to all students through the establishment of two yearly University-wide QI challenge competitions, and the development of interdisciplinary QI-related exercises that can be embedded into existing courses. The websites developed for the QI challenge competitions are available at https://covid19challenge.arizona.edu/ and https://reident.sidiprojects.us, respectively. After obtaining IRB approval, a pre/post pilot study was conducted during the second University-wide challenge, asking participants to demonstrate their socially-aware QI skills by engaging in a hypothetical and inquiring about their confidence in their socially-aware QI abilities. Moving forward, efforts will be made to expand the reach of this work through the construction and publication of an academic article that presents a typology of socially-aware QI skills, and the best practices for teaching these skills developed over the course of the project.


NOV 2021: Socially-Aware Quantitative Intuition: From Definition to Measurement, CUES Inside UA-Funded Scholarship Series, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.


APR 2022: Understanding database reconstruction: learn this one neat trick for identifying people in datasets!2020 CUES Spanning Boundaries Challenge: Developing Socially-Aware Quantitative Intuition, sponsored by CUES, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.

MAR 2021: Herd COVID-19 Vaccination Challenge: An Online Policy Simulation for UArizona Students2020 CUES Spanning Boundaries Challenge: Developing Socially-Aware Quantitative Intuition, sponsored by CUES, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, Virtual.