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Physical Geology

Christopher Kopf
, Mansfield University
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Summary


This course is intended for students who are interested in careers in Earth Science education (as middle or high school teachers). The course introduces students to a range of topics that they will encounter on the Earth Science Praxis certification exams for secondary school teachers.

Course Type:
Entry Level :Physical Geology

Course Size:
31-70

Course Format:
Integrated lecture and lab

Institution Type:
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course Context:

This is typically the first Earth Science course that students will take. The majority of students in the class will continue as majors in the Earth Science education program, but there are also some students from other majors who take the course for general science credit. The class meets for three hours each week with an "open" structure that mixes lecture with hands-on student learning, but it has no formal lab component.

In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses? yes
The department has five "tracks" for majors (we are a combined Geography/Geology program with emphasis on environmental science, mapping technology, watershed management, earth science ed, and geography). The different intro courses are tailored to suit the need of these five tracks.

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? yes

Course Content:

This course introduces general content areas covered on the Praxis II Earth/Space Science exam, including Basic Scientific Principles of Earth and Space Sciences, Tectonics and Internal Earth Processes, Earth Materials and Surface Processes, History of the Earth and its Life-Forms, and Earth's Atmosphere and Hydrosphere. The course is structured around in-class exercises and lectures that could be used in a typical 50 minute high-school Earth Science course.

Course Goals:

After completing this course, students should be able to pass the Praxis II Earth/Space Science Exam content areas dealing with Basic Scientific Principles of Earth and Space Sciences, Tectonics and Internal Earth Processes, and Earth's Atmosphere and Hydrosphere. The course also provides introduction to Earth Materials and Surface Processes, History of the Earth and its Life-Forms, and Astronomy which are covered in greater detail in subsequent classes that include formal labs.

Course Features:

During this course students will encounter questions on a range of topics and formats that are similar to those that they will encounter on the Praxis II exam. These questions stress basic breadth of knowledge and basic interpretation of geologic data from simple maps, graphs, diagrams, and tables.

Course Philosophy:

The course has a relatively large enrollment, and most students have little prior exposure to the Earth Sciences. The course is intended to expose students of varying backgrounds to a broad range of topics in Physical Geology and introduce them to some techniques they might employ in their own classes as Physical Science teachers. Given the size and distribution of students, this course does not include a formal lab, but does incorporate short hands-on activities that might be applied in an hour long class period.

Assessment:

During the course students are assessed based on several hour long exams that focus on multiple choice and short answer questions. Over the long term student performance on the Praxis II exam is tracked to gauge student outcomes and course content.

Syllabus:

Syllabus (Microsoft Word 35kB Jul11 08)

References and Notes:

Earth, Portrait of a Planet (3rd Ed.), Steve Marshak
Appropriate content for this course, well organized and illustrated, positive student feedback on previous editions of this text.


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