Math You Need > The Math You Need, When You Need It > Implementation Plans > Physical Geology at Northern Virginia Community College
This page is designed to provide a guide to a planned implementation of The Math You Need, When You Need It. It will change as the implementation proceeds at this institution. Please check back regularly for updates and more information.

Physical Geology
at Northern Virginia Community College

Implementor(s): Shelley Jaye
Enrollment: 30 in each
Anticipated Start Date: January 2012 (Semester)

Challenges to using math in introductory geoscience

In the community college environment, math presents a particular challenge. The college serves the entire community; compile a snapshot of all attendees at the CC and you would see a good representation of the demographics of the community. A community college instructor will often see this wide range of knowledge, skills and abilities in one classroom. All community college graduates must satisfy a minimum level of competency in mathematical skills. Quite often, the student will postpone taking their math classes until the end of their time in attendance at the college. This often results in unprepared students in the introductory geoscience courses. I believe that TMYN modules will decrease stress on both the instructor and the student by offering an additional tool for both to use to help the student understand geoscience math concepts presented in the classroom. I also see the modules as reinforcement and reassurance for the student that understands the concepts when working on them in class but finds that they need assistance when completing homework or studying.

More about your geoscience course

The geoscience courses offered at Northern Virginia Community College satisfy lab science credit prerequisites for transferring students as well as completion of lab science requirements for Associate Degree seeking students. Physical Geology does not have a prerequisite math requirement. All three courses include 3 contact hours of lab per week (based on the 16 week semester). The lab may have up to 30 students working in groups; the instructor works alone without the aid of assistants. TMYN modules will serve as an assistant to aid the student that is being challenged by the math concepts presented in the lab exercises. The student will have the opportunity to work through the concepts without waiting for the instructor to become available for individual assistance.

Inclusion of quantitative content pre-TMYN

Quantitative skills in all of the geoscience courses offered at the community college are either taught or reinforced by the instructors. "Pre-lab" exercises do not regularly include any quantitative exercises, realizing that if students come to a concept that they do not readily understand, they will most likely wait until lab time to ask versus seeking help in a book or online. Depending on the subject of a lecture or lab, the amount of time spent on quantitative skills varies widely. On average, perhaps one hour per week is currently spent on providing instruction in quantitative skills. The amount and depth of quantitative exercises in the courses could be increased if the students are required to prepare, for labs in particular, by using the TMYN tutorials.

Which Math You Need Modules will/do you use in your course?

  • Density: Introduction; Plate Tectonics; Minerals; Igneous Rocks
  • Graphing: Earthquake Epicenter/Magnitude; Absolute Age
  • Plotting Points: Benioff Zone; Topographic Profile
  • Best Fit Line: Benioff Zone
  • Topographic Profile: Yes
  • Reading Points from a Line: Absolute Dating
  • Rates: Groundwater Flow; Glacial Retreat
  • Slopes: Mass Wasting; Gradient
  • Trigonometry: Subduction Angle
  • Unit Conversions: Plate Tectonics; Topographic Map Scale; Gradient; Groundwater Flow; Glacial Retreat

Strategies for successfully implementing The Math You Need

My initial implementation of TMYN modules would be in small, discreet packages of example problems for the students to review based on the lab concepts presented throughout the course. I plan to carefully select the quiz questions to apply directly to the information and exercises that the students will complete during lab on a given week. The students will revisit the modules and focus on specific concepts discussed in the weekly lab lessons. My plan is to introduce the TMYN modules in the first week of the course and use them as needed in direct correlation to the lab topics. I plan on implementing quizzes post student review of the module and prior to use in the specified lab. The quizzes will be included as a percentage of the student's overall lab grade (~10%).

Reflections and Results (after implementing)


Physical Geology Course Schedule (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 14kB Jul29 11)