2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


WENNER, Jennifer M., Geology Dept 800 Algoma Blvd, Univ of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 800 Algoma Blvd, Oshkosh, WI 54901, BAER, Eric M., Geology, Highline Community College, P.O. Box 98000, Des Moines, WA 98198 and MANDUCA, Cathryn, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057, wenner@uwosh.edu

The inclusion of quantitative concepts in introductory geoscience courses achieves two important objectives: (1) students recognize the quantitative nature of geoscience, and (2) students' quantitative literacy is increased. Because it may be the only science course that many students take, introductory geoscience can be an important place for students to learn both quantitative and scientific thinking. We present a website that introduces methods for Teaching Quantitative Literacy (serc.carleton.edu/quantskills/methods/quantlit/) and is designed to help instructors to make their introductory geoscience courses more quantitative with little effort.

The growing website includes examples of quantitative geologic context pages (e.g., flooding, geologic time, radiometric decay) that are supported by mathematical concept pages (e.g., probability, big numbers, exponential growth/decay). Geologic modules identify essential concepts that are difficult for students, giving hints, pointers and in-class examples for each of the difficult ideas. Quantitative modules draw on “good ideas” from mathematics education for teaching quantitative concepts, explore geologic context for skills, introduce the goal of using multiple representations and appropriate technology, and link to outside resources for both faculty and students. Perhaps the most important (and useful) aspect of these pages is an extensive collection of ready-to-use labs, in-class activities, handouts, homework, and examples. These can be downloaded and used to illustrate and practice quantitative skills in introductory courses.

Quantitative literacy is becoming increasingly important in our number-filled society. Because the geosciences offer a diverse set of contexts in which to teach quantitative concepts, we seek submissions of similar material, and anticipate continued development of web pages and supporting materials that encourage the teaching of quantitative introductory geoscience. The website is a part of the Teaching Quantitative Skills in the Geosciences website (serc.carleton.edu/quantskills) developed for the Digital Library for Earth System Education (dlese.org).