The Math Your Earth Science Majors Need: Co-curricular Math and Statistics modules for Earth science majors courses

Monday 4:30pm-6:00pm SERC Building - Atrium | Poster #27
Poster Session Part of Monday Poster Session


Eric Baer, Highline Community College
Rory McFadden, Carleton College
Beth Pratt-Sitaula, EarthScope Consortium
Michael Coe, Cedar Lake Research Group
Quantitative skills are critical in Earth science and students need sustained and distributed practice to strengthen their skills. Applying quantitative approaches to Earth science questions enhances students' comprehension and prepares them for the workforce and future education. However, many faculty members face challenges incorporating quantitative skills within Earth science courses due to variation in students' preparation and comfort with math, limited in-class time for practicing math skills in Earth science contexts, and other barriers. Despite requiring advanced math courses like calculus, many Earth science departments provide limited opportunities for students to apply basic math knowledge within geoscience courses, perpetuating the misconception that quantitative skills are tangential or irrelevant to the Earth sciences.
To address this issue, The Math Your Earth Science Majors Need project is developing and testing co-curricular math modules to support the development of quantitative skills specifically for Earth science majors. Thus far we have developed eight modules and plan to have 14 on both mathematical topics (e.g., vectors, exponential equations) and statistical topics (e.g., histograms, linear regression.) Each module applies the quantitative skill to real-world Earth science problems with examples from various sub-disciplines. Emphasizing the importance of these skills and helping students see how they connect across different Earth science courses may promote skill transfer, student self-efficacy, and recognition of the importance of quantitative skills.
The co-curricular math modules are designed to level the playing field for all students. Providing additional asynchronous, self-paced support to students who have varying levels of quantitative background and comfort may help students confidently apply these skills in their Earth science studies and future careers, as well as facilitate the sustained and continuing application of quantitative skills in undergraduate courses that will lead to a quantitatively literate Earth Science workforce. Modules are available at