Principles of Earth Science
at El Paso Community College
Implementor(s): Russell C. Smith
Anticipated Start Date: August 27, 2012 (Semester)
Challenges to using math in introductory geoscience
El Paso Community College (EPCC) is a two-year college of about 26,000 students. The student's ages range from 16 (early college program) to 80 (one of my students) and up. For many students English is a second language and many are the first in their family (extended family) to attend college.
Many students through no fault of their own have very weak math skills–poor preparation. The department encourages the introduction of math into this course to stress that math is important in science and to improve student math skills. I am very hopeful that "The Math You Need" (TMYN) will give me new and additional opportunities to increase quantitative topics.
More about your geoscience course
There is a lab which is scheduled to be 40% of the class time and I integrate lecture and lab. Most of my students are non-majors and take the course to meet the science lab requirement of their particular degree plan. I get a lot of education majors, criminal justice majors, and a variety of others. I am under the impression that many students take geology for their science requirement because they expect little or no math. Most students transfer to a four-year institution, most often the University of Texas at El Paso.
I consider the teaching majors to be a special target group as this course may be their only exposure to science and their impressions and attitudes toward science often will be passed on to their students, especially those who teach in the lower grades of K-12. I try to instill the idea that math skills are important to everyone, especially in the sciences, and can be developed no matter of previous experience of negative attitudes.
I have teaching assistants (TAs) who usually fulfilling the role of tutors and are available to help the students who need extra help. The TAs walk around during lab periods to answer questions and help students as needed. They are also available at non-class times to meet with students. The college also has a math lab open to all students for additional help.
This course is taught by two full-time professors and numerous adjunct faculty. It is also taught online.
Inclusion of quantitative content pre-TMYN
I devote several lectures and numerous lab exercises to try to get students to the appropriate level. Lab exercises include unit conversions, rate calculations, using graphs and manipulating equations. I feel that I fail with many students due to lack of time in an already very full course calendar.
Which Math You Need Modules will/do you use in your course?Density
Reading Points from a Line
Strategies for successfully implementing The Math You Need
I will begin the course with a pretest to assess current math skill levels among the students. I will then assign modules at the rate of one each week to help students improve their skills. All of these will be for extra credit. The schedule of modules is not listed in the calendar because I really need to get a feel for how frequently I can assign modules. I will give the assignments and due dates during class.
Reflections and Results (after implementing)
GEOL 1401 Syllabus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 38kB Jul28 12)
GEOL 1401 Official Course Description (Acrobat (PDF) 86kB Jul28 12)