Paper No. 125-7
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM

IMPLEMENTING THE MATH YOU NEED, WHEN YOU NEED IT: AN EFFECTIVE STRATEGY TO SUPPORT UNDERPREPARED STUDENTS IN INTRODUCTORY GEOSCIENCE COURSES


GORDON, Elizabeth S., GeoPhysical Sciences, Fitchburg State University, 160 Pearl Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420, egordon3@fitchburgstate.edu
Many students who enroll in introductory geoscience courses, particularly to meet general education requirements, are underprepared for college-level quantitative exercises. Diversity in the quantitative skills of students within the same class can pose an additional instructional challenge. The Math You Need When You Need It (TMYN), a set of online math tutorials designed to remediate students’ math skills in geoscience courses, has been incorporated into two introductory courses at Fitchburg State University to address this challenge. The asynchronous, online tutorials provide a convenient method of supplemental math instruction, especially for a large proportion of students who commute to campus. All students complete four to five TMYN tutorials (e.g., Rates, Unit Conversions, Graphing, Best Fit Line, Rearranging Equations) as preparation for using the relevant skill in class or lab. Results after two years of implementation in Oceanography and Meteorology indicate an improvement in students’ quantitative skills based on pre- versus post-test scores and individual tutorial assessments. Pre- to post-tests gains average between 10 and 25% for each course. Majors and non-majors alike typically earn a higher score on the post-test, but when normalized to the pre-test score, average improvement is generally higher for science majors compared to non-majors. Completion rates for the tutorials average 85%, and anonymous feedback on the tutorials is overwhelmingly positive. TMYN has been an effective instructional tool for teaching quantitative skills in introductory geoscience courses.