Quantitative Reasoning in the Geoscience Classroom: Modeling Functions and Logarithmic Scales

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Have you ever tried presenting graphs to your students only to experience frustration when they look first to the data points, ignoring important information on the graphical axes? Does this frustration lead to a less quantitative presentation of your course—do you leave the graphs (or the math behind them) out entirely? Geoscience courses are often viewed as being qualitative, despite the fact that modern geoscientists practice in a thoroughly quantitative field (Manduca et al., 2008). Enhancing our students' skills and experience in quantitative reasoning in undergraduate geology courses can be difficult, but it is essential if students are to work successfully in the profession after graduation (Manduca et al., 2008; Vacher, 2012). Geoscience courses offer a precious opportunity to present mathematics in context (Wenner et al., 2009), which we cannot let pass us by. Two topics that fit very nicely together, and are quite relevant to geosciences, are logarithmic scales and graphing modeling functions. In this article we discuss a unit from our course, and how it teaches these concepts.

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In the Trenches, v. 8, issue 1, art. 10