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Course Goals/Syllabus Database
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Physical Geology

Author Profile
Sharon Kanfoush
,
http://www.utica.edu/faculty_staff/skanfoush/index.cfm
,
skanfoush@utica.edu

Utica College
a
Private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate
.

Course URL: http://websrv.utica.edu/faculty/skanfoush/Geology/Geology_page.html
Subject: Geoscience:Geology
Resource Type: Course Information:Goals/Syllabi
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14)
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Course Type: Entry Level:Physical Geology
Topics: Solid Earth
Course Size:

31-70

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no pre-requisites. It does serve as a prerequisite for other courses
within the minor in geoscience, however the minor is new this year and we have not yet had students
progress onto the higher-level courses. Typically, 80-100% of the students within the course each
semester take the course to satisfy a general education requirement in laboratory science. An
occassional biology, chemistry or physics major takes it because either they're interested in broadening
their science background or because it is required within their chosen concentration area (typically the
teaching track) within their major.

Course Goals:

* Following in-class discussion of examples, predict potential impacts of geologic events on society and
predict potential impacts of human activities on the earth.
* Research and evaluate information on a topic in geology or on the geology of an area and be able to
present it to an appropriate audience.
* Analyze a controversial geologic topic, take a side on it and defend it.


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

* Exams may (not always) include a description (written and/or map) of a geographic area with
enough detail to provide "clues" about the geologic hazards, and students are asked to assess
and identify any risks.

* Students are required to conduct library research on a chosen topic; evaluate information in texts,
on-line, and in the literature; organize it and present it to an audience of their peers and the instructor.

* Three assignments will require paired mock Letters-to-Congressman; one for and one against a
controversial issue. Required preliminary drafts will comprise an increasing proportion of the
assignment grade (0, 50, 100%) through the course of the semester to foster increasing independence.

Skills Goals

* critical analysis of web sites
* accessing and critically reading the geologic literature
* student writing
* oral communication


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

* critical analysis of web sites: Students must research their Letters-to-Congressperson as well as
some take-home assignments related to the laboratory using web-sites. Because the Letters
assignment requires students take both a "pro-" and a "con-" stance on the issue at hand, they
frequently come across websites with conflicting information, and these serve as points to begin discussion.

* accessing and critically reading the geologic literature: The oral-presentation is based upon books,
primary literature, and "popular science" media.

* student writing: The Letters-to-Congressperson assignments require a first draft on which they receive
feedback to subsequently submit an improved final product. Feedback is on both content and writing.

* oral communication: The oral-presentation is only the final step in a multiple-step feedback process
that includes an outline, an annotated bibliography, and a rehearsal to improve the final presentation.

Attitudinal Goals

* changing student attitudes toward science

* changing student attitudes specifically toward geoscience; which is oftentimes viewed as
"pseudoscience" (even, or perhaps especially, by students within other science disciplines) because;

(1) it does not generally rely upon "controlled" laboratory experimentation, and
(2) no one was around thousands, or millions, or even billions of years ago to "see it" so we cannot
really know anything about the past


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

* changing student attitudes toward science: The relevance of science is an ever-present message. I
have reorganized the sequence of presentation of course topics around geologic hazards and resources
and have "hung" pertinent course material on this framework. For example, "Volcanoes" is a major
course section upon which I have hung the rock cycle and formation of igneous rocks and plate
tectonics. In addition to an incresase in students' exam scores (particularly at the low end), I have
realised an ability to pick up the pace of my teaching because the students seem to be understanding
the material more easily and quickly.

* changing student attitudes specifically toward geoscience; which is oftentimes viewed as
"pseudoscience" (even, or perhaps especially, by students within other science disciplines) because;

(1) it does not generally rely upon "controlled" laboratory experimentation, and
(2) no one was around thousands, or millions, or even billions of years ago to "see it" so we cannot
really know anything about the past

I try to overcome the extra challenges faced by a historical science such as geology by using frequent
analogy with forensic science, which is very much in the public eye these days with the airing of such
television shows as Crime Scene Investigation. I constantly remind them that geologic evidence such
as sedimentary structures serve as "clues" to reconstruct past events in much the same manner that
a hair fiber may serve as a clue to a crime scene investigator.

In the laboratory, students are given "unknowns". For example, students are given a sediment of
unknown origin and asked to figure out a plausible depositional environment from which it came using
only textural analysis and associated sedimentary structures.

Syllabus:

Syllabus (Microsoft Word 51kB Jul14 04)

Other Materials ( 0bytes Jul14 04)

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