Three examples of the use of inquiry-based, data-centered exercises in geoscience courses at the University of St. Thomassubmitted by
This is a partially developed activity description. It is included in the collection because it contains ideas useful for teaching even though it is incomplete.
Higher Order Thinking Skills:
2. Developing clear arguments.
3. Drawing conclusions from data
4. Critiquing peer's writing
2. Scientific writing and good organization of a research write-up
Slope stability: Undergraduate major
Tectonic geomorphology: Undergraduate major
Slope stability: no prior skills required.
Tectonic geomorphology: some background on Basin and Range extensional tectonics.
Role of Activity in a Course:
Data, Tools and Logistics
Slope stability: a simple, acrylic box (Acrobat (PDF) 597kB Aug1 08) that is easy to build is needed for each group of 3 or 4 students; digital balances and buckets are nice to have, too.
Tectonic geomorphology: Students will need software that can read DEMs (MacDEM for macs, which is very easy to use) and image analysis software (NIH-Image is free and available for both mac and PC platforms). The DEMs are also available from my web site:
Slope stability: catching the beans can be difficult and messy (have a broom ready) unless you come up with a better design for the sliding gate on the apparatus; student bump the apparatus and send material flying; Excel can always be a challenge for plotting data.
Tectonic geomorphology: takes time to get students up to speed on the software they'll need to view, scale and analyze the DEMS; must have good communication to make sure that they are all collecting mountain front sinuosity data in the same way.
The goals are for students to:
(1) deepen their understanding of caves, focusing on Mammoth Cave in particular,
(2) practice making and testing a hypothesis,
(3) practice working with real scientific data, and
(4) learn one way that geologists quantify and visualize complicated map patterns.
(1) Be able to explain how experiments can be used to understand the long-term behavior of some geomorphological systems.
(2) Be able to explain the role of slope failures in the evolution of slopes and landscapes, for the particular case we're investigating.
(3) Have a better understanding of how the material that makes up a slope may control the nature of a mass movement event.
(4) Be able to describe how this experiment supports the idea that oversteepened toes of slopes may not be evidence of a disequilibrium landform.
In this lab, students are asked to answer a basic question: can relatively simple, morphometric techniques be used to demonstrate that tectonic activity varies across the Basin and Range province (Fig. 9)? Ultimately, it is their goal to answer this question. In addition, other goals of this lab are:
1. To be able to understand and use digital elevation models (DEMs).
2. To give students a strong example of how geomorphology can be used to understand a big tectonic issue, how to collect appropriate data, how to analyze those data, describe the results, and make conclusions.
3. Provide basic proficiency with two computer tools that students can use for their course project: MacDem and ImageSXM (NIH-Image).