Workshop Program

Infusing Quantitative Literacy into Introductory Geoscience Courses, June 26-28, 2006, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
Jump down to:Monday, June 26 | Tuesday, June 27 | Wednesday, June 28

Sunday, June 25

6:30 pm
Dinner at Chapati Indian Restaurant, 214 Division St. Participants who arrive before 6:30 can meet us at the restaurant for a pre- workshop dinner. The meal (minus alcoholic beverages) will be taken care of as part of the workshop.

Monday, June 26

Breakfast available at Country Inn
8:30-9:30 a.m.
Introductions and goals: Language and Dining Center Room 330
Cathy Manduca, SERC - Carleton College;
Eric Baer, Highline Community College;
Jennifer Wenner, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
9:30-10:30 a.m.
Role for Geoscience Education in Promoting Quantitative Literacy (PowerPoint PRIVATE FILE 27.4MB Jun26 06)
Len Vacher, University of South Florida and the National Numeracy Network
This presentation will discuss QL in today's number-filled society, the great advantage that geoscience educators have in enhancing QL, and the founding of the National Numeracy Network to help spread QL across the curriculum. The presentation will be followed by 15-20 minute group discussion.

In addition, Len has provided some fantastic Examples of Teaching Numeracy - PowerPoint presentations that can be downloaded and used to help teach about spreadsheets.

10:30-10:45 a.m.
10:45-11:45 a.m.
Why is teaching quantitative skills to introductory students difficult?
Discussion led by Eric Baer, Highline Community College
In this activity we will split into small (3-4 person) groups for an initial discussion of why it is so difficult to infuse introductory courses with quantitative skills (30 minutes). We will then regroup to report and discuss with other small groups and to think about how to make it easier (30 minutes).

Discussion Summary (Microsoft Word PRIVATE FILE 36kB Oct12 06)
11:45 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
1:00-1:30 p.m.
Specific quantitative skills that are important in introductory geosciences
Jennifer Wenner, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Presentation and discussion
An introduction to the concept of the dual quantitative concept/geologic context Quantitative Literacy website. Discussion of what we know about teaching quantitative skills in introductory courses and the quantitative skills and vocabulary that geoscientists have indicated are important. Small groups with similar interests may be formed to work on similar skills/activities.
1:30-2:30 p.m.
Panel: Assessing quantitative skills
James Myers, University of Wyoming Steve Galovich, Lake Forest College
  • Handout from Lynn Steen's book (pp. 6-9 "Elements of Quantitative literacy");
Ken Heller, University of Minnesota
This panel will discuss effective ways to assess quantitative skills in introductory students' assignments, successes and difficulties encountered when assessing student work and different ways of looking at assessment.
2:30-2:45 p.m
2:45-3:45 p.m.
Activities that work: lessons learned in math and geoscience
Steve Galovich, Lake Forest College;
Sam Patterson, Carleton College
This presentation will focus on effective activities that draw on lessons learned in the mathematics education community. Particular attention will be paid to strategies for problem solving in mathematics and ways that geoscientists can use problem solving in their courses.


  • Characteristics of well-designed quantitative activities
  • Schoenfeld's Competencies in Problem Solving Domains
  • 3:45-5:00 p.m.
    Activity Creation
    Group Work
    We will split into groups of 2-3 people to look at activities with similar themes. Using the information from previous sessions and the review criteria developed by last year's workshop each group will discuss how the activities developed by the members of their group might be enhanced to better teach desired aspects of quantitative literacy. Each participant should create a list of changes to that they would like to make to their own activity.
    Activities can be uploaded before arriving at the workshop.
    5:00-6:00 p.m.
    Poster session and reception
    Workshop participants who indicated interest in presenting posters will showcase their work with quantitative skills. A chance to mingle with other workshop participants and time to reflect on good ideas for teaching quantitative literacy. Refreshments will be served. Presenters include:

    Ken Heller, University of Minnesota Learning Physics Through Problem Solving at the University of Minnesota (Acrobat (PDF) PRIVATE FILE 709kB Jun23 06)
    Leslie Kanat, Johnson State College
    Dimensional Analysis Converts the Skeptical Mind (Acrobat (PDF) PRIVATE FILE 929kB Jun22 06)
    Randal Mandock, Clark Atlanta University
    Earth System Science Student Performance at the Introductory Level with the Clark Atlanta University Energy Balance Module (PowerPoint PRIVATE FILE 446kB Jun27 06)
    Sadredin (Dean) Moosavi, Walden University
    Gulf Hypoxia Mitigation Analysis & Debate (Microsoft Word PRIVATE FILE 14.9MB Jun27 06)
    Mona Sirbescu, Central Michigan University
    Using groundwater flow simulation towards quantitative-skill stimulation (Acrobat (PDF) PRIVATE FILE 32.4MB Jun27 06)
    Rachel Teasdale, California State University - Chico
    Attempts at Integrating Quantitative Activities in "Rivers and Streams" Lab for Introductory Geology at CSU Chico (Acrobat (PDF) PRIVATE FILE 208kB Jun27 06)
    6:00 p.m.

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    Breakfast available at Country Inn
    8:30-9:00 a.m.
    Summary of yesterday and goals for today
    Group discussion
    9:00-10:00 a.m.
    Teaching Problem Solving in Large Introductory Classes: The View from Physics (PowerPoint PRIVATE FILE 3.8MB Jun27 06)
    Ken Heller, University of Minnesota
    This presentation will focus on the difficulty that students have in transferring quantitative concepts from one context to another. It will include some discussion of how revisiting concepts in a variety of geologic contexts may help with this difficulty.
    10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
    Structuring courses to reinforce quantitative concepts
    Group work

    In this small group activity, participants with similar courses will be divided into pre-selected groups. Members of each group will:

    1. brainstorm to identify one or more key goals for quantitative learning in the course;
    2. build on existing syllabi to create an single syllabus (or annotate an existing one) that demonstrates ways that the course achieves key goals for quantitative learning, and reinforces and promotes transfer of quantitative skills; and,
    3. produce a modified or annotated syllabus and a paragraph (or more) describing the reasoning behind the way the newly modified course is structured (this will be posted to the website).

    Near the end of the session (at approximately 11:30), we will ask each group to present what they believe is the "best" idea to have come out of this brainstorming session. We have set aside approximately 30 minutes for idea presentation and whole group discussion of these ideas. We will collect the modified syllabus and your short paragraph(s) (preferably in some sort of electronic format) at the end of this session. Both of these will be posted on the website.

    12:00-1:00 p.m.
    1:00-2:00 p.m.
    Panel: Strategies that work: math anxiety and skill levels
    Eric Baer, Highline Community College; - Presentation (PowerPoint PRIVATE FILE 17kB Jun27 06)
    Rachel Teasdale, California State University - Chico - Presentation (PowerPoint PRIVATE FILE 1.4MB Jun27 06)
    Alan Whittington, University of Missouri
    Faculty will discuss successes with teaching quantitative skills focusing on overcoming multiple skill levels in the classroom and the difficulties involved with math anxiety.
    2:00-3:00 p.m.
    Where are we now? What have we learned? What do we want to do next?
    Discussion led by Cathy Manduca
    Brainstorming session about what we have learned about quantitative literacy in introductory geoscience and the directions we would like to go to expand our knowledge and use of quantitative skills in our courses.
    3:00-6:00 p.m.
    Completion of activity or syllabus to share
    Group meetings and work time
    Small groups interested in activities and/or similar courses will work to design and complete one or more of several possibilitities:
    1. An introductory geoscience course, complete with model syllabus and an annotated page on how this course is designed to address issues inherent in incorporating quantitative skills into an introductory geoscience course. Final product will look like this example of a completed course description with associated page describing design.
    2. An activity (or set of activities) that utilizes the characteristics of well-designed activities. A finished activity includes preparation of materials (handouts, instructor notes, etc.), completion of associated web form. Final product will be similar to Modeling the interior of the Earth using Seismic Waves.
    3. A set of activities that is centered on a quantitative skill or geoscience topic. As with the activity, a final product will include materials relavent to teaching these activities, and completion of associated web form(s). Final product will be similar to Teaching functions.
    All final products will be shared with the entire group on Wednesday morning (10 - noon) and will be uploaded onto SERC's Quantitative Skills Website.
    6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
    7:30 p.m.-??
    Preparing product for sharing.
    Work time for small groups
    Unstructured time for small groups to work on activities and syllabus to be presented in late morning on Wednesday.

    Wednesday, June 28, 2006

    Breakfast available at Country Inn
    8:30-10:00 a.m.
    Putting the finishing touches on product for sharing
    Work time for small groups
    Unstructured time for small groups to work on activities and syllabus to be presented late this morning. Printers and photocopiers will be available.
    10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
    Final product sharing and discussion
    Small group presentations
    Each small group (see Tuesday 3-6 pm) will have 7-8 minutes to present their final product followed by 7-8 minutes of discussion/critique by the whole group. Presentations should focus on the key elements in the course/activity design that support quantitative learning/literacy.
    12:00-1:00 p.m.
    1:00-2:00 p.m.
    What have we learned?
    Whole group reflection
    Workshop participants will reflect on the workshop and discuss newly learned strategies for incorporating quantitative skills in introductory geoscience courses.
    2:00-4:30 p.m.
    Break Out Sessions - The sessions are arranged in 2 concurrent groups, so participants will be able to attend two of the sessions.
    4:30-5:00 p.m.
    Discussion, reprise and evaluation
    Whole group participation
    6:00 p.m.

    Thursday, June 29

    Participants check out