The positive externalities of the QAC



Our Quantitative Analysis Center serves a lot of students. While preparing for our 2022 reaccreditation with NECHE, we wanted to make claims about how many students the QAC serves who might not otherwise have taken data/quantitatively related classes at Wesleyan. So, we got a list of all Wesleyan students (293) who have ever had a data analysis minor (through Spring 2021) and looked up what their majors were.

We then coded their majors either as ones that were: “quant intensive” (10 majors), “quant moderate” (6 majors), or “quant lite” (18 majors). We then isolated students whose majors fell solely into the “quant lite” camp; by our estimates, that’s 21% (62) of the 293 students. Since so many Wesleyan students are double majors, we were careful to ensure that the 21% were only those for whom neither of their majors counted as “quant moderate” or “quant intensive.”


First of all, the coding of these majors is sticky business. It is difficult to tell simply by looking at a major’s requirements how quantitative that major actually is. We did this mostly in a “back of the napkin” fashion so that we could come up with a rough estimate. But if we were to do this again (and we might!), we would be much more careful in our operationalization of these categories, and this would require checking with the departments themselves.

Second, there are indeed a set of students for whom the QAC offers something they may not have otherwise been exposed to during their time at Wesleyan. And the 21% no doubt underestimates the effect for two important reasons. First, we could argue that students whose majors fell into the “quant moderate” category have quant skills that are bolstered by their work in the QAC. And we could also argue that this quick analysis only focuses on students who earned a data analysis minor; but what about students who took just a class or two in the QAC?


First, how many students at Wesleyan over, say, the last 5 years took a single class in the QAC? Two classes? What percentage of the Wesleyan student population are these students? How many had “quant lite” majors?

Second, how well coded are the majors? For example, we put CSS in the “quant lite” category. But is that right? Only checking with CSS will help us here.

Third, is grouping students by major really the way to go here or does that simply cause us to stereotype majors in ways that are unfair. How else could we measure the value added of the QAC?