"Computational Geology" at the University of South Florida Prepares ou rGeology Majors for the Transition to the Work Force: How Our Course Does it and How We Know that it Does

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The course "Computational Geology" – now in its twenty-second year at the University of South Florida, School of Geosciences – teaches geology majors the fundamentals of quantitative literacy through real-world examples and simulated problems with geologic context. The course uses geological-mathematical word problems, spreadsheet applications, and hands-on original lab activities to prepare students for the reality that awaits beyond graduation: where people will depend on the answers they, as our alumni, will be expected to provide, and those answers won’t be found in the back of any book. The primary goal is preparing our geology majors to be "the geologist" on the scene, solving real problems that involve some math.

A series of studies – in progress with more to come – has given insights to ways this course is achieving its goals. The study series includes an alumni interview project where ten graduates told us what they remember, what they’ve used since graduation, and what students should be learning today. Also included are multiple original lab activities, such as measurement-and-error lab using unmarked chopsticks as units and a slide rule and log scale lab series that teaches fundamentals of graph reading as a primer for modeling functions. Most recently, a reading and writing activity was assigned that was the basis for a published study on math in the affective domain. Future projects include an attitude survey of working geologists on quantitative preparation from geoscience departments nationwide.

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Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 49, issue 6, no. 18-13