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.

GEO 170 - Disasters - Living on the Edge
at University of Wisconsin - Marshfield/Wood County

Implementor(s): Iddi Adam
Enrollment: 35
Anticipated Start Date: Fall 2012 (Semester)

Challenges to using math in introductory geoscience

The University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County is one of the 13 campuses of the University of Wisconsin Colleges, a freshman-sophomore institution within the University of Wisconsin System. The UW-Marshfield/Wood County campus is located in the north central Wisconsin community of Marshfield, a city of approximately 19,000 located 145 miles north of Madison. UW-M/WC attracts students of all abilities, but increasingly from the second and third quartiles of their high school graduating classes. Our students typically comes from first generation college households, with many from low-income families. We are also increasingly attracting non-traditional students, most of whom are place-bound.

Our students typically come to earn their General Education credits for (guaranteed) transfer to any of the University of Wisconsin System Institutions. About half of our students typically earn their Associates of Arts and Science with us. In the last year, our campus is one of the 6 University of Wisconsin Colleges' campuses chosen to implemented the new Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) Degree in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

There is a general perception among freshmen that you do not need math to do well in Geography and Geology. So students who lack the math skills to take chemistry or some other "hard" science often take this as they hone their math skills to take chemistry or physics. There is, therefore, an aversion to any semblance of math in the classroom, even if it is simple equation. It is not that it is difficult. I believe the students have made up their mind that they are not going to get it, and therefore do not even want to try.

More about your geoscience course

This is a freshman course open to all students, both geoscience majors and non-majors. We tend to attract students with the least quantitative skills because of the perception that one does not need math to do well in geography or geology. In addition, our students tend to come from the second and third quartile of their high school graduation classes. This means that they are often underprepared for college. A third factor is that they tend to be rural, often first generation college students. When one combines all these factors, it makes for a lot of remediation during the semester.

Inclusion of quantitative content pre-TMYN

I try as much as possible to simplify the quantitative skills required for this course. I also often go back and review concepts repeatedly. I also refer students to the Learning Center for help in their quantitative skills.

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

  • Unit Conversions (essential for student understanding of humidity calculations beginning in the second week of the course)
  • Reading a Point from a Curve (essential for understanding the graphs and data provided beginning in week 4)
  • Density and Specific Gravity (essential for student understanding of seismicity and volume calculations in volcanology)

Strategies for successfully implementing The Math You Need

I have developed the three modules I would be using in the course. I have also developed the pre-test and the post-test for the course. In order for The Math You Need to be successfully integrated into the course, I have provided information in the syllabus. Here are some of the strategies I intend to use:

  • Provide some empirical data on the use of TMYN in other institutions and the success rate
  • Explain to students why we need to use TMYN in this course
  • Continuously remind students on the importance of TMYN
  • Provide points for each module, the pre-test and the post-test
I plan to do these three modules in the first five weeks of the seven-week course. The pre-test would be given on the first day of the course. After the first week, I would administer the post module assessment of the Unit Conversion module. After the third week, students would take the second post-module assessment (on Reading a Point from a Curve). In the fifth week, the last post-module assessment would be available to students. This way, the students would have the math skills they need for the last 2 weeks of the course. The post-test would be given immediately following the fifth week to see if the students actually benefited from the three modules.

This class is a hybrid class. That means that we meet only once a week for 7 weeks. So about half the content for the course have to be done by the students in an online environment using Desire To Learn (D2L), a course management program. As part of the online portion of the course, students:

  • Participate in an online discussion forum, after reading or watching posted videos or online reading materials
  • Submit a weekly discussion summary in the course dropbox
  • Do the weekly course tests, which is submitted online in the course dropbox.

The in-class portion of the course includes:

  • A lecture on the week's course content
  • Groups discussion on a chosen topic
  • Review of the previous week's online tests (if necessary)
  • Answering questions that students may have.

Reflections and Results (after implementing)

Not yet


GLG - Disasters Living On The Edge Syllabus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 28kB Jul28 12)