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Math Rocks! Linking Physical Geology with a Mathematics Course to Improve Student Learning. Mike Phillips, Geology Instructor Cheryl Hobneck, Math Instructor Illinois Valley Community College This presentation may be accessed at: http://www.ivcc.edu/phillips. The Courses.

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math rocks linking physical geology with a mathematics course to improve student learning

Math Rocks!Linking Physical Geology with a Mathematics Course to Improve Student Learning

Mike Phillips, Geology Instructor

Cheryl Hobneck, Math Instructor

Illinois Valley Community College

This presentation may be accessed at:

http://www.ivcc.edu/phillips

the courses
The Courses
  • Physical Geology (with lab)
    • introductory, general education course
    • high rate of D’s, F’s, and withdrawals (typically around 25 to 30%)
  • Intermediate Algebra
    • prerequisite for college level math
    • math placement based on Accuplacer score
    • non-transfer course
identify barriers to student success
Identify Barriersto Student Success
  • Physical Geology
  • Methods: classroom assessment, discussions with counselors
  • Student background (Spring 2003)
    • 4/5 of the students had not taken a college-level lab science course
    • 3/4 of the students had not had a geology course (HS or college)
    • 3/4 of the students had not successfully completed a college-level math course
the link between math and geology
The Link Between Math and Geology
  • Basic geologic concepts are often described using graphs and equations.
  • Understanding and completing lab exercises requires students to use math.
  • High math anxiety is a barrier to student success in geology & math.
math at ivcc
Math at IVCC
  • IVCC has mandatory placement testing
    • fall 2003: 72% tested below “college-level” (national average is around 80%)
  • Frustration for students and parents
    • students are “back tracking”
  • Developmental Math courses
    • build students’ skills to the college level
    • lab or lecture/lab combo
    • provides review of math concepts to be used in other courses
identifying solutions
Identifying Solutions
  • How can student needs be addressed?
  • Explored options through discussions with counselors, deans, other instructors
  • Two solutions were implemented for Physical Geology:
    • web-based assistance for all students
    • learning community for students
learning communities
Learning Communities
  • http://learningcommons.evergreen.edu/
  • “…classes that are linked or clustered during an academic term, often around an interdisciplinary theme, and enroll a common cohort of students.”
learning community structures
Small cohort of students enrolled in large enrollment sections of linked courses and in cohort-only seminar.

Cohort of students are sole enrollees in designated sections of linked courses

All students are enrolled in team-taught program

images after: http://learningcommons.evergreen.edu/

Learning Community Structures
developing math rocks
Developing “Math Rocks!”
  • Applied to college’s Learning Community Coordinators
  • Added sections to schedule
    • assistance of Deans
    • advice of counselors
  • Discussed new LC with counselors (key!)
math rocks
Math Rocks!
  • Large Geology lecture (1/3 –1/4 LC)
  • Intermediate Algebra (mostly LC)
  • Geology lab section (LC only)
  • Seminar with the geology and math instructors (LC only)
sample topics lc seminar
Sample Topics (LC Seminar)
  • Scale conversions
  • Graphing and rate calculation for ash clouds and plate motion
  • Drainage basin analysis
  • Cookie mining (economic geology)
  • Radiometric dating
  • Groundwater flow calculation
student response
Student Response
  • Student success
    • DFW rate 18% (28% for rest of class)
    • Note: cohort is presumed to be a higher risk for DFW
  • Student comments on Math Rocks! indicate that students
    • feel it improves their understanding of both subjects
    • enjoy working with and getting to know other students
    • like the extra attention
instructor response
Instructor Response
  • Gain insight into what our students are learning and expected to know
  • Able to observe the techniques of another instructor
  • Get to know the students better
  • Able to address student needs more effectively
keys to success
Keys to Success
  • Identification of beneficial links
    • instructors
    • division deans
    • counselors
  • Coordination & communication between instructors
  • Identification and registration of students by counselors
  • Support from administration
future goals
Future Goals
  • Continue to revise seminar and course activities
  • Continue to examine scheduling with deans and counselors
  • Continue to work with counselors
  • Identify new LC opportunities
thanks
Thanks
  • Math Rocks is supported in part by a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education
  • Math Rocks has received indispensable support from our counselors, Deans, and Vice President for Academic Affairs
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