Quantitative Skills

Teaching Quantitative Skills in the Geosciences


Quantitative skills are an essential tool for both the geoscientist and the citizen. Helping students master skills ranging from simple arithmetic or graphing, to sophisticated use of equations and models is an integral aspect of teaching geoscience at the undergraduate level.

This website provides information on the issues involved in teaching quantitative literacy, reasoning, and skills and methods for doing so as well as additional resources and a community of other faculty who are all attempting this challenging task.

Issues and Discussion: An overview of issues and a starting point for discussion. What do we mean by quantitative skills? Which skills are important? This section also includes links to commentaries, a reference list of related articles, and a discussion list where you can discuss your challenges in teaching quantitative skills.

This graphic shows the relationship between topographic profile and slope to make the concept of the derivative clear. Image from the Computational Geology column in the Journal of Geoscience Education, n. 5.
Teaching Methods: Examples and discussion of teaching methods currently used to teach quantitative skills in the geosciences.

Teaching Resources: Classroom resources focusing on quantitative skills in a geoscience context, including activities, course descriptions, internet resources, and resources for students to use directly.

Teaching Quantitative Skills in Particular Settings: The kind of class and campus setting can pose particular challenges and opportunities for teaching quantitative skills.

Tools and Datasets: Data sets and the tools for working with them can be a good way to engage students' interest with real-world questions.

Community: There is a growing community of people who are interested in improving students' quantitative skills. And that community is larger than just geosciencetists. Join that community and find out about activities going on in this larger arena.


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  • Apply for the 2019 Teaching Computational Thinking Skills with MATLAB Workshop
    Join fellow educators from Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geoscience, Engineering, Math, and allied fields in sharing experiences and expertise in teaching computational thinking skills in undergraduate courses at the 2019 Teaching Computational Thinking Skills with MATLAB Workshop, October 20-22 at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. Participants will work with peers and MathWorks representatives to develop course materials and discuss best practices for building computational thinking skills in their courses and assessing students' understanding of applied computation.
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