Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM


FREDRICK, Kyle C., Earth Sciences, California University of Pennsylvania, 250 University Avenue, Campus Box 55, California, PA 15419,

California University of Pennsylvania, in the heart of the Marcellus shale play, has experienced growing interest in geology, associated with energy and the environment, due to the increased job opportunities attributed to the natural gas boom in the Appalachian Basin. But, many students are apprehensive about pursuing geology when they recognize the level of rigor, especially related to mathematics. Quantitative skills are an emphasis of upper-division geology classes, and tend to scare away potential majors. Students often delay declaring their major or declare something they perceive as “easier.” Math is less a part of introductory courses at CalU, but Hydrology, the first of the heavily quantitative courses, requires students to spend a great deal of time and effort on applying math. The course had developed a reputation for being difficult and students spoke of fear and anxiety for taking it. Yet course enrollments continue to increase with students from non-major areas “testing the waters” for a potential change to geology. To allay student aversion and fears, significant class time was spent on remedial skills. This led to a reduction in the effectiveness of the class for subsequent major courses such as Watershed Evaluation and Groundwater Hydrology. Designed to assist students in developing remedial skills in mathematics within the context of geology, the program “The Math You Need” was implemented in Hydrology first in Fall 2011 and again in 2012. Students were required to complete a pre-test to assess their incoming quantitative abilities. Quizzes were assigned, associated with modules relevant to course topics. The in-class math remediation was scaled back and students were expected to complete the modules outside of class. After the modules were completed, a post-test was assigned to assess the students’ growth. All of the students improved from their pre- to post-tests. Overwhelmingly, students appreciated the opportunity to work through basic skills in a low-pressure, discipline-specific manner. Self-confidence and aptitude increased and major and minor numbers have continued to increase. Class time that had previously been set aside for building basic, prerequisite skills was freed up for introducing higher-level concepts and more hands-on and field activities.