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 Lecture and Lab
at North Hennepin Community College

Implementor(s): Megan Jones
Enrollment: 50 each
Anticipated Start Date: 8-22-11 (Semester)

Challenges to using math in introductory geoscience

North Hennepin students come from a wide array of backgrounds and a majority of them are first generation college students. This makes finding an equitable level at which to deliver the content and skills very difficult. My courses have no prerequisites, they are open to anyone. Thus, I have students that range from sorely unprepared/underprepared to extremely well-prepared. One obstacle or challenge that I have is that there are generally no peer tutors for geology as there are for the other natural and physical sciences. I am the primary resource for my students. My hope is that TMYN will facilitate students achieving an appropriate level of understanding of the quantitative skills in both lecture and lab that they can feel confident about their abilities. In addition, I hope that TMYN will provide extra opportunities for struggling students to practice the quantitative skills necessary to feel successful in the course.

More about your geoscience course

My geoscience courses primarily fulfill general education requirements for students who transfer or who need a science course for a particular degree or certificate. One geology course is a required part of a particular AA degree. The course I plan to work with at the workshop serve primarily non-majors. My physical geology course is a 3 hour lecture course with a 3-hour lab and is taught over a 16-week semester. It is not taught online, but can be taught in a hybrid format. I have no TAs or other support to help with tutoring or grading of work which often limits my ability to provide enough practice with responsive and timely feedback on quantitative skills to help my students feel confident about their abilities to use those skills on exams.

Inclusion of quantitative content pre-TMYN

I currently spend about 25% of my class and lab time on quantitative skills. Students work in collaborative groups on all labs and often in pairs in lecture. I usually introduce the topic (e.g., rates, unit conversions, graphing, map scales, gradients, etc.) and do some examples on the board – pretty traditional approach. Then I have students work several problems and I go around the room answering questions and/or helping struggling students get started or get unstuck somewhere alone the line. I also have those students who understand the problems and complete them quickly move around the classroom and peer tutor the other students. Otherwise they are done and ready to move on to something else. This is, of course, the consequence of the wide range in preparation that my (all) students have coming into the class. My hope is that TMYN will be useful in bringing all my students, or at least most of them, to the level that is appropriate for the course. At present, I don't feel that I give my students enough opportunities to practice these quantitative skills so that they develop the confidence that they need to use them effectively in homework and exams. I hope that TMYN will help me with this.

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

Density: (oceanic vs. continental crust, density of water vs. ice, mineral and rock densities)

Graphing: (plate tectonics, volcanoes, streams, groundwater, earthquakes, climate change)

Plotting Points: (plate tectonics, geologic time, streams, groundwater, earthquakes, climate change)

Topographic Profile: (topographic maps, volcanoes, active vs. passive margins, streams, glaciers)

Reading Points from a Line: (plate tectonics, geologic time, topographic maps, streams, groundwater, earthquakes, climate change)

Rates: (plate tectonics, geologic time, streams, groundwater, earthquakes, climate change)

Slopes:(plate tectonics, geologic time, streams, groundwater, earthquakes, climate change)

Unit Conversions: (plate tectonics, geologic time, topographic maps, streams, groundwater, earthquakes, climate change)

Strategies for successfully implementing The Math You Need

I have integrated TMYN into my Physical Geology class and lab. TMYN is listed in my syllabus in the locations where it will be implemented, near the appropriate topics and in places where a review of it would be helpful for students. This will reinforce that we are not done with them when they are finished, but that what the modules contain will be used again and again. I have added a learning outcome on quantitative skills to my course objectives (see syllabus objectives section (Acrobat (PDF) 356kB Jul29 11)) so that the students know up front that there is a quantitative aspect to the course and that I consider is important enough to list in the course objectives. Upon my return I will add this new objective to the college outline for this course.

I am using the following modules in my class: Graphing, Unit Conversion, Density, Rates, Slopes and Topographic Maps. I have already created the student assessments for the first 4 of the modules so they are ready to go. I still need to make the student assessment for the Slopes and Topographic Maps and create the pre- and post-overall assessment for the students. Each module will be worth 5 pts for a total of 30 points; half of which is part of grade and half of which is extra credit. The difference between their pre- and post-assessment score will be part of their grade. I will administer the pre-test during the first week of class and the post-test in week 15 or week 16 of the semester.

I will start using the modules on the first lab meeting with two parts of the graphing module - plotting points and reading graphs. Students will do this module in class with laptops so that then they are familiar with TMYN and can then feel confident about using it outside of class. Students will also do campus field trip where they begin making observations by describing what they see so they can see how the graphing module might be applied with data. By applying TMYN right after they complete the module I will be reinforcing that I am serious about helping them improve their quantitative skills and that these modules have a purpose in solving geologic problems.

One module will be assigned in two parts so that they better complement the topics that they are associated with. The first part of the Unit Conversions module will be completed between the first and second lab meetings and the map scale portion of the Unit Conversions module will be completed with the topographic maps lab.

Reflections and Results (after implementing)


Physical Geology Syllabus - Fall 2011 (Acrobat (PDF) 356kB Jul29 11)