Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
at West Virginia University
Instructor: Amy Weislogel
Challenges to using math in Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
Typically students are not expecting the need to recall math skills for a upper level geology course, often because quantitative skills are not emphasized in prerequisite introductory courses. Even though these students often have been exposed to the computational skills in previous math classes, transferring these skills to geological applications often is a challenging endeavor. Furthermore, many of these skills will be needed to succeed in the field course that serves as a capstone course for the major. Providing students the opportunity to brush-up on these skills throughout their major training is a critical aspect of their foundational knowledge.
More about your geoscience course
Sedimentology and Stratigraphy is an upper-level class for geology majors that is a requirement for the B.S. degree. Computational skills are utilized in laboratory, in-class exercises and take-home exercises. A T.A. is the primary instructor for the lab and so is the main person fielding questions and helping students to troubleshoot problems designing and executing computations in lab activities. This course is a prerequisite for the capstone field course for the B.S. degree.
Inclusion of quantitative content pre-TMYN
Quantitative computations are primarily required in group or independent activities. These activities may be conducted in lab, in class or by students out of class. Often there are some students who are very proficient in mathematical operations and others who are less comfortable or have less mathematical capabilities. My goal in implementing TMYN is to ensure all students enter an activity adequately prepared to succeed in the computational aspects of the lab/activity. TMYN will allow students to engage in self-paced remedial math training prior to these activities so that the scientific concepts presented in the activities can be fully accessed and internalized without the computational aspects becoming a distraction.
Which Math You Need Modules will/do you use in your course?
- Plotting Points
- Best Fit Line
- Topographic Profile
- Reading Points from a Line
- Rearranging Equations
- Unit Conversions
Strategies for successfully implementing The Math You Need
In the past, quantitative skills needed for activities were presented as part of a comprehensive stand-alone packet or handout that included a description of the activity, some background and the questions to be addressed or products to be completed by the end of the activity. The TMYN modules will be added as out of class activities as a pre-activity/pre-lab assignment as a skills refresher. Impact of these modules will be determined through pre-testing and post-testing. A mandatory, ungraded pre-test will be administered so that students can assess the strengths and weaknesses of their quantitative skill set. Modules will be assigned as preparatory work preceding allied activities and laboratory work. A graded post-test will be given as part of the final exam. This will determine the extent to which quantitative skills were enhanced through this approach.
Reflections and Results
This section will be completed after the implementation is complete.