Observing, describing and measuring landscape attributes
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: May 22, 2008
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- give students an opportunity to pose some of the basic questions about how and why landforms are created
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
- challenge students to develop a hypothesis for how they might explain one of the landscape patterns they observe.
Other skills goals for this activity
- develop students' "eye" for seeing patterns in the landscap
- develop students' ability to describe clearly what they see
Description of the activity/assignment
Students work in groups, examining three different representations of earth surface topography: a raised relief map, a topographic map, and stereo pairs of aerial photographs. The class comes together three times during the lab to report on each group's progress and results.
This lab is intended to both clarify and build on students' previous ways of seeing the landscape, and also give them a chance to view the landscape with fresh eyes. One important element of this exercise is to practice separating observation from interpretation. Ideally, observations are objective facts, things other people would see if they followed the same procedure as you did. Interpretations are all the names, explanations and stories we develop as we attempt to make sense of our observations.Designed for a geomorphology course
Has minimal/no quantitative component
Addresses student fear of quantitative aspect and/or inadequate quantitative skills
Addresses student misconceptions
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Acrobat (PDF) 52kB May22 08)