Initial Publication Date: July 19, 2011

What is The Math You Need, When You Need It?

The Math You Need... is a library of student-centered web-based modules that can be customized to and run concurrently with any introductory geoscience course. Each module will give students the quantitative knowledge that they need, just before they need it in their concurrent geoscience course. This unique program includes:
  1. pre-assessment of students' quantitative skills,
  2. modular, self-paced, student-centered instruction for under-prepared students, and
  3. post-assessment to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

The Project

This student-centered NSF-sponsored project utilizes innovative instructional techniques. We draw on best practices in mathematical education to create multiple modules that advance students' knowledge and understanding of mathematics across the geoscience curriculum. We called it The Math You Need, When You Need It because it is designed for self-paced review of mathematical skills just before those skills are needed to address geological problems. cartoon of computer When combined with classroom examples of quantitative concepts in a geoscience context, this project addresses concerns with STEM education (NSF 2006; NRC, 2003; 2005), including:
  • difficulties in teaching large numbers of students from diverse backgrounds,
  • course adaptation to students' preexisting knowledge, and
  • student self-assessment and monitoring.

The Modules

The modular nature of this project makes it readily adaptable to any introductory geoscience course that involves quantitative concepts - instructors can choose which modules work with their syllabus and which subjects are covered on the final quiz. These modules are designed to be completed by the students who need them most, just before quantitative concepts are covered in class.

Each module consists of an explanation of the issue, a number of sample problems for the student to work through, and a culminating exam testing whether the student understands the concepts. The explanation and problems are written from the perspective of geoscientists who teach these concepts regularly. Each module uses best practices in teaching college level mathematics and all are in the context of the geosciences.