Cutting Edge > Introductory Courses > Course Descriptions > Earth Science

Earth Science

Karen Bridges
, Mount San Antonio Community College
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Summary


A survey course that introduces fundamentals of geology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy. The companion Earth Science laboratory (GEOL 8L) is recommended for students needing a lab to transfer to a 4-year college/university. Field trips are required.

Course Type:
Entry Level :Earth Science

Course Size:
31-70

Course Format:
Lecture only, lab optional

Institution Type:
Two Year College

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no prerequisites and is not a prerequisite for other courses. Almost all students enroll to satisfy general education requirements for transfer to a four year college. There is an optional lab which is recommended for transferring students.

In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses? yes
Generally, the Earth Science course in a GenEd course whereas the Physical Geology course is aimed more towards potential majors. Majors and non-majors alike are free to take either or both courses.
If students take a "non-majors" course, and then decide to become a major, do they have to go back and take an additional introductory course? no

Course Content:

A survey course that introduces fundamentals of geology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy. Major concepts such as: plate tectonics, global atmospheric and oceanic circulation, atmospheric characteristics & weather, history of astronomical thought and our place in the universe are covered. One field trip is required; location and emphasis is instructor-dependent.

Course Goals:

After completing this course, students should demonstrate a basic understanding of the interconnectedness of the geosphere, atmosphere, and our oceans. I would hope that students would also gain an appreciation of the complexities of Earth, recognize our place in a much bigger picture, understand that "science" in general is very relevant in everyday life. I realize this second statement isn't very measurable, but it IS something I think is quite important.

Course Features:

One way I try to bring seemingly esoteric concepts down to earth (so to speak) is having students present current topics to the class. For example, a discussion of plate tectonics allows for presentations regarding volcanoes, earthquakes, human impacts of several natural disasters and our own vulnerability (in California). I also require summaries of current articles from scientific journals pertaining to subjects such as CO2 in oceans, species extinctions, etc.

Course Philosophy:

I have developed this design mainly through trial and error. I have so many different types of students and different types of learners, that I try to address many ways of reaching them. I do experiments in lecture and have them predict outcomes and watch what happens. I want their grades to reflect many types of assessment, and I really want them to enjoy the material. I know I love the subject, and I want them to love learning! This definitely challenges me to be creative and flexible.

Assessment:

As stated above, students give oral presentations, write article reviews, take short quizzes and go on field trips. A facet of my grade is based on attendance and effort. I also have the customary exams and a cumulative final (I do not make the final worth any more than the exams). Exams consist of multiple choice, matching, short answer and problem-oriented questions (I give students a scenario, and they draw conclusions based on the observations I have given them).

Syllabus:

Syllabus (Microsoft Word 56kB May7 08)

References and Notes:

Course text: Foundations of Earth Science, Tarbuck & Lutgens
I also assign current articles from scientific journals, although I try not to make the articles mind-boggling...just spark some interest and provide a opportunity for students to see the big picture.

Pedagogic Development:
I've taken a couple professional development courses (Accommodating Students with Disabilities, Developmental Ed class) that have helped me to adjust my approach.


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