Cutting Edge > Courses > Introductory Courses > Course Descriptions > Historical Geology (Earth History 1404)

Historical Geology (Earth History 1404)

Roger Steinberg
, Del Mar College
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Summary


Introduction to geologic time; relative and actual age-dating methods; stratigraphic principles; origin of the Universe, Solar System, atmosphere, oceans, life; plate tectonics; changes on the Earth's surface and development of organisms through geologic time.

Course Type:
Entry Level :Historical Geology

Course Size:
15-30

Course Format:
Students enroll in one course that includes both lecture and lab. The lecture and the lab are both taught by the professor.

Institution Type:
Two Year College

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no prerequisites and is not a prerequisite for other courses. This course is taken by a broad-range of students who are fulfilling the science requirement of their respective programs–only about 3.5% of our students are Geology majors.

In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses? no

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:

This Geology course provides an overview of the geologic history of the Earth, and includes an introduction to geologic time; relative and actual age-dating methods; stratigraphic principles; origin of the Universe, Solar System, atmosphere, oceans, life; plate tectonics; changes on the Earth's surface and development of organisms through geologic time. Course includes 14 labs that closely match lecture course content. Relative Age-dating – Discovery of Important Stratigraphic Principles is an example of an activity used in this course. Includes optional overnight Field Trip to Texas Hill Country and Llano Uplift.

Course Goals:

  1. By the end of the class you should have a good understanding of science in general, the requirements and limitations of scientific theories, and what is perhaps Geology's greatest contribution to human knowledge – the realization and full appreciation of the true magnitude of geologic time.
  2. In this class you will learn how the science of Geology has been applied in the study of the rock record to determine the history of the Earth, including the history of life on Earth as revealed by fossils.
  3. As in any other history course, you will learn the major events and important milestones in the history of the Earth and its biota. (What happened and when it happened.)
  4. You will also consider the Earth and its history in the larger context of planetary processes within our solar system.
  5. Skills that you will utilize include reading, writing, drawing, speaking, working with computers, cooperative learning, and critical thinking.

Course Features:

Lecture course topics emphasize not only what we claim to know about the history of the Earth, but how we know.
14 lab activities are closely tied to the lecture course content. All laboratories have been created by the instructor and emphasize the local and regional geologic setting (such as Geologic Maps and Geologic Structures: A Texas Example).

Course Philosophy:

I believe it is very important for students to realize that everything we claim to know about the history of the Earth is based on the application of sound scientific principles.
By creating my own laboratories, I can emphasize what students may already know something about, south Texas, and can more effectively link lecture and lab topics.

Assessment:

Exams and laboratory exercises.

Syllabus:

Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 20kB May7 08)

Teaching Materials:

Activity sheet for Relative Age-dating – Discovery of Important Stratigraphic Principles
Activity sheet for Geologic Maps and Geologic Structures: A Texas Example

References and Notes:

The Changing Earth: Exploring Geology and Evolution, Monroe/Wicander
This text combines both Physical and Historical Geology into one Textbook.

I also assign relevant articles from current geologic literature throughout course, as well as several websites.


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