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When equations are presented in class or in the context of textbook reading, students first evaluate whether the equation is appropriate for use in the dictionary (is it useful in many situations or specific to one problem? Is it a "final" version of an equation, or can it be simplified? Is it likely to be used in solving geophysical problems?) Once an equation is selected for the dictionary, students add a "definition" that includes (a) a short description of each variable and relevant constants, including appropriate units, (b) a written description of the process or relationships presented within the equation, and (c) any additional notes that help them understand the equation. The dictionary may be used on homework and exams, which encourages students to describe the equations in a manner that is meaningful to them. Thus, rather than simply write down the equation for seismic moment, a student might add "Seismic moment is a function of the size of the fault as well as the rigidity of the rock. The larger the fault or the displacement, the larger the earthquake". This activity allows students to evaluate their understanding of equations and the underlying physical processes. Addresses student fear of quantitative aspect and/or inadequate quantitative skills Addresses student misconceptions
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