Teaching quantitative skills is one of the most challenging and important aspects of teaching geoscience. Quantitative skills are essential for Earth science students and citizens alike, and these skills have been deemed a critical goal for U.S. undergraduate education [National Science Foundation, 1996].
Public policy decisions increasingly are made and explained to the public based on data presentation, numerical models, statistics, and numbers. Introductory Earth sciences are among the primary courses chosen by nonscience students to fulfill science requirements and thus provide an important vehicle for teaching these essential skills. Courses in the geoscience major are equally important in introducing students to the quantitative analysis that is increasingly central to the discipline. It is therefore essential that adequate training be provided to Earth science majors and nonmajors in quantitative techniques ranging from simple graph and data interpretation to more sophisticated techniques such as numerical modeling.