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.

The Math You Need in Geology 1401- Earthquakes and Natural Disasters
at Baylor University

Implementor(s): Sharon Browning
Enrollment: 200
Anticipated Start Date: August 27th, 2012 (Semester)

Challenges to using math in introductory geoscience

Baylor University is a private 4 year institution in central Texas with a total enrollment of 14,900 with 12,575 undergraduates, 3,033 of which are freshmen. Our student population is diverse and accomplished, originating from every state and 71 countries around the world. Baylor's median SAT score range is 1120-1300 (math and reading) and 74% of our freshmen are in the top 25% of their graduating class. Despite their achievements, they often still struggle with quantitative skills in our freshmen introductory courses. Most students are required to take 8 hours of lab science courses (2 classes) as part of their general education requirements, and choose geology over physics or chemistry based on their perception of how easy it is. The majority of them will not take another math or science class beyond the 1000 level.

More about your geoscience course

Geo 1401 is a service course, taken mostly by freshman non-science majors to fulfill a lab science requirement, although our geology majors may chose it also. There is a required lab component, which is where I anticipate using TMYN most frequently. The lab is taught by TA's, who currently spend a great deal of lab time reminding and in some cases teaching students the math skills utilized in the labs. The course is taught by two different professors that alternate semesters; there is no online component.

Inclusion of quantitative content pre-TMYN

Each lab addresses quantitative content. The labs are designed so that the students perform a series of experiments, observe and calculate results, and employ critical thinking to draw conclusions. My goal in using TMYN is to remind students of the math skills they have forgotten before the lab is performed, reducing the use of lab time necessary to address confusion and frustration. We currently spend as much as 1/4 to 1/3 of the lab time addressing quantitative skills, and students often are so frustrated by the math, they lose sight of the content we are trying to communicate.

Quantitative content in the course includes rearranging and solving algebraic equations, plotting and interpreting a variety of graphs, and taking a variety of measurements including velocity, period, and displacement.

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

Density (calculating rock and mineral density)
Graphing: (stress/strain plots, travel time curves, magma viscosity, earthquake distance)
Plotting Points: (stress/strain plots, travel time curves, plate tectonics)
Reading Points from a Line: (travel time curves, magma viscosity, earthquakes, seismic waves)
Slopes: (plate tectonics)
Unit Conversions:(rock deformation, earthquakes)

Selected modules for fall semester include rearranging equations, graphing, order of operations, and unit conversions.

Strategies for successfully implementing The Math You Need

Planned strategies for fall 2012 include students taking an assessment test during the first week of class so that their level of preparation and understanding of quantitative skills may be gauged. This pre assessment will be mandatory, and graded on a pass/fail basis, and not included in the class grade. A total of three modules will be used in the lab class, and assigned as follows:

Prior to lab 1 (What is inside the Earth) : scientific notation, significant figures

Prior to lab 3 (Rock deformation): graphing, rearranging equations

Prior to lab 5 (seismic waves): graphing, unit conversion

Each of the three selected modules will be worth 2% of their lab grade. After lab 7, students will take a post assessment test identical to the pre assessment that will be worth 4% of their lab grade. The total of post module assessments and the final assessment will be worth a total of 10% of their lab grade. As our students work in groups during lab, this also provides an additional measure of individual effort and comprehension.

geology 1401 syllabus (Microsoft Word 43kB Jul28 12)

Reflections and Results (after implementing)