Why use The Math You Need, When You Need It?
Why is this effort important?
participants in 2006 QL workshop). The modules in The Math You Need... are math tutorials for students, completed just before they need to be able to use it in their geoscience course. The modules are designed to delve more deeply into the mathematics needed for introductory geosciences while supporting students who are math phobic or just need some math review.
There is good evidence that both retention and learning are increased when students feel they have support for difficult mathematical concepts (e.g., ACT, 2004; Baer et al., 2005). If they feel like they are given time to learn (or relearn) the mathematics they are more comfortable applying it later to "high-stakes" problems in their courses. At Highline Community College, a one-credit course called "MathPatch" has dramatically increased retention and student performance. Students felt that they had the support and did not feel lost because they knew that mathematical thinking was expected of them. They were supported and lived up to that expectation.
Why "self-paced" and "web-based"?
The Math You Need... can be used in conjunction with any introductory geoscience course. A pretest determines who needs the tutorials. Each appropriate tutorial can be assigned to those students who need (or want) the review of concepts they "should have learned in high school". These tutorials/reviews of quantitative skills are meant to reduce the time spent in class teaching remedial skills while increasing the quantitative support for those students who need it. Self-paced and web-based means that you don't have to spend time in (or out of) class that could be spent on geoscience topics.
Why did we choose this pedagogy?
The modules in this project build upon ideas generated by mathematicians and geoscientists at a series of NSF-sponsored workshops. Together, they came up with some good ideas for teaching mathematics in the geosciences:
- Place quantitative concepts in geologic context.
- Use multiple representations.
- Work in groups.
- Revisit mathematical concepts throughout the course.
- Use technology appropriately.