Teach the Earth > Course Design > Course Goals/Syllabus Database > Geology of the National Parks

Geology of the National Parks

Author Profile
Carol Ormand

Wittenberg University
Private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course URL:
Subject: Geoscience:Geology
Resource Type: Course Information:Goals/Syllabi, Course Site
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14)
Ready for Use: Course Goals Only
Course Type: Entry Level:Physical Geology
Course Size:


Course Context:

This is a topical introductory course with no prerequisites. Although it is advertised as a gen ed course for non-science majors, some students who take the course do go on to become geology majors, and this course serves as a pre-requisite for intermediate level geology courses. Of the four hours of class time per week, at least half is spent in "lab" activities or local field trips.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to interpret the geology of their surroundings when they travel to new places.

Students should be able to research the geology of an unfamiliar place, and explain it to a friend.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Field trips (to a local cave system, river gorge, and glacial deposits) include guided inquiry activities to help students interpret these features and relate them to the national park we are studying in class. Simultaneous in-class "investigations" have students explore the geology of national parks through maps and data sets. Assessment is based on a written report at the end of each investigation.

Throughout the term, pairs of students investigate the geology of a national park of their own choosing. At the end of the term, students have a poster session to present their findings. Authors of the "best poster" (chosen by their classmates) win a small prize.

Skills Goals

Students should be able to write a unified paragraph.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Approximately 12 "investigations" during the semester require brief follow-up (written) reports. The grading rubric for these reports (distributed ahead of time) includes my expectations for writing quality.

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