The Math You Need, When You Need It 2010:
A workshop for faculty teaching introductory geoscience

July 14-16, 2010, Highline Community College, Seattle, WA

By Invitation Only

Including quantitative skills in introductory geoscience courses can be challenging for a number of reasons. The skills of students in these courses often span a wide range. Many students who enroll in the geosciences are math phobic. The public perceives geosciences as descriptive and non-quantitative. Many textbooks have completely cut out mathematics. And many university administrations apply pressure to keep enrollments up by lowering expectations. On the other hand, introductory geoscience courses are an excellent venue for including quantitative material because geosciences in general are inherently data-rich. How do we overcome this apparent dichotomy and provide students with realistic geoscience experiences?

This NSF-funded project – The Math You Need, When You Need It (TMYN) – is designed to provide resources for both faculty and students to include quantitative skills in the introductory geoscience classroom by:

  • Supporting students in learning and reviewing remedial math skills
  • Providing this support outside of the classroom
  • And freeing up classroom time for instructors to increase the amount of quantitative geoscience.

Early results suggest that TMYN is successful at both remediating math and allowing faculty to infuse more quantitative geoscience content into their courses. This workshop was designed to train faculty to implement these resources into an introductory geoscience course. seattle

Workshop description

This workshop provided an opportunity for faculty teaching introductory geoscience to increase the quantitative content of their courses.

In this day-and-a-half workshop participants:

  • learned about successes of this program at five institutions
  • modified a course to include quantitative content using online resources
  • designed an implementation unique to his/her course and institution
  • created a webpage about ways they plan to implement the resource in their course
  • discussed ways of overcoming difficulties in teaching quantitative skills
  • collaborated with other participants to integrate this resource into courses that successfully develop students' quantitative skills
  • contributed to improving TMYN effectiveness

Workshop conveners:

Eric Baer, Highline Community College, Geology
Helen Burn, Highline Community College, Mathematics
Jennifer Wenner, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Geology

Workshop leaders:

Rob Benson, Adams State College, Geology
Kim Hannula, Ft. Lewis College, Geology
Kate Kramer, McHenry Community College, Geology


Workshop operational costs as well as room, board and travel costs for participants were covered by grants from the National Science Foundation (DUE-0920800 and DUE-0920583.) Participants will receive a small stipend after the successful implementation of The Math You Need resources in their courses.

Logistics and Location

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The workshop took place at Highline Community College, just south of Seattle, Washington (see Workshop Program for more details). Participants were provided with lodging and meals through National Science Foundation funds. Sea-Tac Airport is just 3 miles from the conference hotel and meeting area, and a shuttle was available to all participants.

Participant Selection Criteria

Workshop participants were chosen based on previously expressed interest in using The Math You Need resources and reflected a variety of institutions, introductory geoscience courses, student populations and geographic settings.

For more information

Contact the conveners, Eric Baer (ebaer 'at' or Jennifer Wenner (wenner 'at'

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