Intellectual merit: "The Math You Need, When You Need It" program is creating a series of student-centered web-based modules that can be customized to, and run concurrently with, any introductory geoscience course. Each module gives students the quantitative knowledge that they need, just before they need it in their concurrent geology course. This unique program includes: 1) pre-assessment of students' quantitative skills, 2) modular, self-paced, student-centered instruction for under-prepared students and 3) post-assessment to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. We are utilizing innovative instructional techniques based in best practices in mathematical education and thereby creating these modules so that they advance students' knowledge and understanding of mathematics across the geology curriculum. Combined with classroom examples of quantitative concepts in a geoscience context, this project is addressing many concerns about the nation's STEM education, including difficulties with teaching large numbers of students from diverse backgrounds, course adaptation to students' preexisting knowledge, and student self-assessment and monitoring.

Broader impacts: The higher education community recognizes quantitative literacy as an important goal for its graduates as they are integrated into our increasingly number-oriented society. This project is working toward that goal by increasing the quantitative literacy of American undergraduates and, as a result, the greater US population. The modular nature and capability of tailoring instruction to meet individual student needs is supporting increased quantitative literacy in students with diverse backgrounds and mathematical abilities. The project is impacting geoscience faculty who wish to embrace inclusion of quantitative aspects of geoscience in their courses with little extra effort and minimal alienation of under-prepared students. In addition, the proposed project has the potential to be replicated across other academic disciplines and institutions wherever the application of quantitative skills is a barrier to student success.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
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David Matty
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University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
United States
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