A View from the Back of the Envelope top

On the Back of an Envelope - Triplehorn
A column in the Journal of Geological Education.

On the Back of an Envelope: A column devoted to encouraging calculation in geology
Triplehorn, Don
A column in the Journal of Geological Education.
1994 v. 42 p. 46, 164, 272, 402, 524; 1995 v. 43 p. 58, 289. (atleast)
[I have misplaced month information.]

"One of the most obvious, pervasive, and troubling problems with today's students is their fear and loathing of mathematics in any form, be it simple arithmetic or fairly complicated algebraic manipulation. This problem has been the subject of much wailing and gnashing of teeth among geology teachers, but no one has done much of anything about it. In my opinion one good way to help students overcome this shortcoming is to include at least some calculation virtually every day in virtually every aspect of our courses, including lectures, quizzes, exams, laboratory exercises, discussions, and so forth.

To assist in the implementation of this approach, this column is being instituted in JGE. The purposes of the column are to:

  1. Provide examples of calculations that will help students appreciate the value of calculation in geology;
  2. Stress the importance of "order of magnitude" calculation and develop in students a sense of what is "reasonable";
  3. Emphasize the idea that calculation should lead to comprehension in geology, not just the ability to calculate;
  4. Encourage frequent calculation, so familiarity is increased and anxiety is diminished; and
  5. Promote the use of schematics and sketches as aids to calculation.
" [Triplehorn, JGE, 1994,v42,p46]

A probably incomplete list of columns:

A View from the Back of the Envelope
Comments encouraged. - Mitchell N Charity <mcharity@lcs.mit.edu>