Math You Need > The Math You Need, When You Need It > How to use The Math You Need

How do I use these modules?
A guide for Instructors

You can assign a Math You Need module when you feel that students need an introduction to or review of an important quantitative concept that will be used in a subsequent class. The modules have been used as pre-lab assignments, homework, and even in-class assignments. TMYN modules are designed to ensure that all students in your introductory geoscience course can perform basic mathematics that may be needed to understand important geologic content. The modules are designed to support students who struggle with, or are phobic about, basic mathematics. The goal of the modules is to help students become comfortable with mathematical concepts, to allow more time in class for geologic content and to help support students in learning supplemental quantitative material for introductory geosciences.

Each module has three main parts: an explanation page, a set of example problems (that are not graded but have answers) and a set of graded problems (sent automatically to your instructor).

Explanation Pages

Each module begins with an explanation page. Explanation pages

  • introduce the concept,
  • give important mathematical background and geologic context,
  • walk students through likely previous experience with the mathematical concept
  • give students steps to approach similar quantitative problems,
  • provide students with multiple contexts for a given concept (providing motivation for learning math)
  • provide further resources to explore this concept.
This page is intended to provide guidance when completing the other pages of the module. These pages lead into a set of example problems.

Example Problems

The example problem pages provide some practice exercises; students should peruse these pages BEFORE they take the quiz to assess facility with the mathematical concept discussed on the explanation page (see above). These sample problems cover a number of important geoscience topics that may be encountered during your course. Although your course may not cover all topics, the mathematics is the same so students should be able to address problems even without knowing the geoscience.

These pages are designed to give students:
  • practice with the math,
  • a reason for doing the mathematics (geoscience context),
  • worked answers to the problems (hidden until they are ready to see them), and
  • more confidencein their ability to do the mathematics needed in an introductory geoscience class.

Students work at their own pace and complete problems to understand the mechanics of the math (and how it applies to your class).


The final step is to take a quiz designed by you the instructor. Students can also work through this at their own pace. Instructors have also experimented with "testing knowledge" (allowing students only one try) to "mastery" (allowing students to take quizzes multiple times). The quizzes are housed at WAMAP - the Washington Mathematics Assessment and Placement - an open source course management system that allows for mathematical problem solving. Alternatively, you could write your own questions in your school's CMS (e.g., Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle, etc.). For more information, or to be added to the list of instructors using WAMAP for The Math You Need, contact the PIs.

Instructor Notes

Each module has a guide for the instructor. Instructor Notes include information about:
  1. what the student should get out of completing the module,
  2. why (we think) some students struggle with the concept covered in the module,
  3. what (if anything) we do not cover in the module and why it isn't covered, and
  4. resources for the instructor to learn more about the concept.
These pages are designed to help the instructor to understand whether this type of module is appropriate for what s/he is doing in class. They also help instructors to determine for what concepts this module might be appropriate in his/her course.
What quantitative concepts do you want your students to know?
If you have 2-3 minutes to fill out a survey you can tell us what you'd like to see in these pages! To give us your input, please visit our Math Your Students Need Survey.
Thank you in advance for your time and advice!