at Fitchburg State University
Implementor(s): Elizabeth Gordon
Anticipated Start Date: Sept 1, 2011 (Semester)
Challenges to using math in introductory geoscience
Fitchburg State has a diverse student population, comprised largely of students traditionally underrepresented in higher education, including first-generation, low-income, and/or students with disabilities. Approximately half of our incoming students require developmental math coursework, but often enroll in science classes prior to completing those courses. Since our introductory geoscience courses (Oceanography, Meteorology, Geology, Earth Systems Science) do not have prerequisites, the result is that many students who take them lack basic math skills, but they are taking these courses alongside science majors. The goal of implementing TMYN in Meteorology is to help those unprepared students gain the math skills to succeed in the course, without taking time away from content for those students who are ready for a college-level quantitative course and/or for our majors.
More about your geoscience course
This course, which includes 2.5 hours of lecture and 1.25 hours of lab per week, is required for our majors, an elective for our minors, but most students are enrolled to fulfill their Liberal Arts and Sciences Lab science elective. There are no prerequisites for the course. There are no TAs.
Inclusion of quantitative content pre-TMYN
Students encounter math frequently in this course. I usually introduce a calculation in class, have them try it on their own/in groups during class time, and then have a similar calculation as a homework assignment or in lab. For students who have major difficulty with the calculations, I try to: work with them individually during class/lab; encourage them to work with me outside of class time; and have encouraged some to visit the math help center - but students have reported that the math center is geared toward math classes and not math that is embedded in science classes. Since many of our students have off-campus employment - often full-time - scheduling additional time on campus presents a challenge for them. One of the anticipated benefits of implementing TMYN is to offer a math resource to be completed as a student's schedule allows.
Which Math You Need Modules will/do you use in your course?
- Plotting Points
- Reading Points from a Line
- Rearranging Equations
- Unit Conversions
Strategies for successfully implementing The Math You Need
The current plan is to: use the first lab period to complete the pre-test and then introduce TMYN by having students work through the Unit Conversions Module to prepare for the first full lab the following week.
- The first lab covers basic weather tools, and students are typically required to do basic unit conversions (e.g., F to C, mph to kts, etc.) so the Unit Conversions Module will be helpful in this regard.
- During Lab 2, students collect temperature data over a set period of time, so they will complete the Plotting Points Module prior to Lab 2.
- During Lab 4, students encounter humidity calculations, so they will complete the Rearranging Equations Module and the Reading Points from a Line Module prior to this lab.
- During Lab 6, students encounter adiabatic rates, so they will complete the Rates Module prior to Lab 6.
- During the remainder of the course, students will revisit some of the above modules.
Assessment of their learning will be based on pre- and post-test results, as well as quiz scores. The pre-test will not count for the grade, but the post-test will be a small part of their final exam. The module quizzes will be graded and incorporated into their 'Assignments' grade (see syllabus).