Earth Educators Rendezvous > Rendezvous 2018 > Program > Morning Workshops > Teaching for Quantitative Literacy in Undergraduate Geoscience Courses

Teaching for Quantitative Literacy in Undergraduate Geoscience Courses

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 8:30am-11:30am University of Kansas, Lawrence


Jennifer Wenner, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Participants will work in small groups to integrate quantitative literacy into a pre-existing geoscience course (both introductory and upper-level courses are appropriate). Groups will consider appropriate quantitative topics for their course and explore best practices for incorporating them into their courses. Participants should bring a copy of a syllabus for the course they plan to modify and each participant will leave with a modified syllabus and a set of activities/practices that infuse QL into appropriate courses.


Quantitative and geoscience literacies are crucial to developing an engaged citizenry in the 21st century. All too often, however, in college-level geoscience courses, we encounter students with a wide range of mathematical exposure and ability, severe math anxiety, and/or attitudes that they "can't do math." The wide range of abilities (real or perceived) and comfort with mathematics can make including quantitative skills in geosciences courses challenging.

This workshop will explore ways to address the challenges of including quantitative content in the geosciences at the college-level. Participants will work with a preexisting course to identify appropriate topics and content for increasing quantitative skills and literacy. In small groups with similar expertise/course content, participants will explore existing resources and/or develop new tools to incorporate appropriate quantitative content into the course of their choice. Each participant should arrive at the workshop with a copy of the syllabus for the course they plan to modify. The workshop will draw heavily on my work to develop two resources on Teach the Earth: Teaching Quantitative Skills in the Geosciences and The Math You Need, When You Need It.

Target Audience

This workshop is designed for any instructor who teaches a geoscience course (upper or introductory levels) with quantitative content and would like to make it more accessible to all students, regardless of their real or perceived mathematical abilities. We will focus on incorporating established and tested quantitative teaching practices and designing new tools for inclusion in college-level courses.


Participants in the workshop will:
  • Discuss pedagogic best practices for supporting student quantitative literacy and skills in geoscience courses
  • Identify essential mathematical concepts for your course
  • Modify your syllabus to incorporate appropriate quantitative concepts and content
  • Develop appropriate tools, topics, and tutorials to support your students' quantitative skills


Each day will include a brief introduction to the day, small group discussions of key concepts, collaboration on approach to and development of ways to incorporate quantitative concepts in a geoscience context, and time to work on materials for your individual course. Each day will wrap up with a discussion of the morning and planning for the following day. The hope is that you will leave the workshop with at least one new tool designed to increase the quantitative literacy/skills of the students in a course of your choice.