Physical Geology (GEOL 121)
In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory 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?
- Students will use the vocabulary and concepts of geology, along with laboratory and field observations, to correlate rocks, sediments, and soils with the conditions under which they form and the tectonic and geomorphic processes that shape them into a landscape.
- Students will build from what they have learned to evaluate and predict how the geological history of landscapes affects areas of societal and ethical concerns (e.g., natural hazards, resources such as water and fossil fuels, ecosystem health). As students use geological thinking to assess societal concerns, they will participate in the inherently interdisciplinary nature of geology, which incorporates information from disciplines such as chemistry, physics, and ecology, and applies that knowledge in a unique way with the perspective of geological time to look at complex natural systems and develop hypotheses from incomplete datasets.
- Throughout the course, students will learn about and begin to participate in the scientific process and will begin integrating scientific understanding with societal interactions with geological phenomena. Students will participate in discussions and reflection about the tremendous utility of the scientific process in advancing human knowledge and well-being along with discussions of the limits of science.
I use electronic response systems (aka, clickers) to help students think through and better understand the topics covered in lecture. I also do several in-class exercises that have students process and more deeply engage with topics covered in lecture. For example, students complete a geologic time exercise that has them reconstruct the geologic history of a fictitious region. Also, I have students read and discuss several essays on the nature of (geo)science.
The Marshak textbook contains excellent graphics and online animations that help animate geologic concepts. Also, the Essentials book pares geologic concepts down to the most important ideas, which help keep students from getting overwhelmed.
Lev, Rea, and Herman, Core Ideas in Physical Geology: An inquiry-based approach
This lab manual is the standard at my institution.
References and Notes:
Key Reading Resources:
John McPhee, Atchafalaya
John Sclater, 'Heat flow under the oceans' in Oreskes & Le Grand (2001) Plate Tectonics
Dan McKenzie, 'Plate tectonics: A surprising way to start a scientific career' in Oreskes & Le Grand (2001) Plate Tectonics
Key Pedagogic Resources:
I've read a lot of the pedagogical materials on the SERC website as well as some of the NRC reports on how students learn.