The Math You Need, When You Need It: Student-Centered Web Resources Designed to Decrease Math Review and Increase Quantitative Geology in the Classroom
Introductory geoscience courses are rife with quantitative concepts from graphing to rates to unit conversions. Recent research suggests that supplementary mathematical instruction increases post-secondary students' retention and performance in science courses. Nonetheless, many geoscience faculty feel that they do not have enough time to cover all the geoscience content, let alone covering the math they often feel students should have learned before reaching their classes. We present our NSF-funded effort to create web modules for students that address these concerns. Our web resources focus on both student performance and faculty time issues by building students' quantitative skills through web-based, self-paced modular tutorials. Each module can be assigned to individual students who have demonstrated on a pre-test that they are in need of supplemental instruction. The pre-test involves problems that place mathematical concepts in a geoscience context and determines the students who need the most support with these skills. Students needing support are asked to complete a three-pronged web-based module just before the concept is needed in class. The three parts of each tutorial include: an explanation of the mathematics, a page of practice problems and an on-line quiz that is graded and sent to the instructor. Each of the modules is steeped in best practices in mathematics and geoscience education, drawing on multiple contexts and utilizing technology. The tutorials also provide students with further resources so that they can explore the mathematics in more depth. To assess the rigor of this program, students are given the pre-test again at the end of the course. The uniqueness of this program lies in a rich combination of mathematical concepts placed in multiple geoscience contexts, giving students the opportunity to explore the way that math relates to the physical world. We present several preliminary modules dealing with topics common in introductory geoscience courses. We seek feedback from faculty teaching all levels of geoscience addressing several questions: In what math/geoscience topics do you feel students need supplemental instruction? Where do students come up against quantitative topics that make them drop the class or perform poorly? Would you be willing to review or help us to test these modules in your class?
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2007
- 0810 Post-secondary education;
- 0840 Evaluation and assessment;
- 0845 Instructional tools