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Designing an Effective Mineralogy Course
1. Set goals
2. Consider assessment options
Aligning your assessment strategies with the goals of your course is an essential part of the design process. You can learn more about assessment in the section about Assessing Student Learning in the Course Design Tutorial and through our module on Observing and Assessing Student Learning.
3. Select pedagogies and specific teaching activities
The pedagogic techniques highlighted below can provide inspiration as you consider various approaches that will help you achieve your course goals. The resource collections are organized to provide a rich set of materials to draw from in constructing the specific set of learning experiences you want for your students. Finally, explore the more in-depth information and ideas available in special topics.
Selected Pedagogical Approaches
View a selection of pedagogies that lend themselves to skill development in mineralogy. A selection of general pedagogies that lend themselves to the geosciences are found in the Teaching Methods area.
- Teaching Mineral Symmetry Using Kinesthetic Learning: An extensive set of pages about how to teach crystal symmetry through traditional American dances, including annotated video clips of the choreography and audio clips that you can use in your classroom.
Teaching Mineralogy with Crystal Structure Databases and Visualization Software: This site, from Integrating Research and Education, will help educators to appreciate the benefits and challenges of using crystal structure databases in their mineralogy courses; locate potentially-useful crystal structure databases, highlighting differing strengths, features, ease of use, and potential educational applications; download, contribute, and comment on examples of how crystal structure databases can be applied in educational settings and activities (e.g., lectures, problem sets, in-class exercises, lab exercises, student research projects, etc.).
Once you've identified the core learning goals for your course, you can use them to focus your search for relevant materials in our resource collections. The materials listed below reflect the contributions of faculty members from across the country.
Course descriptions and syllabi including course learning goals and supporting information.
- Selected starting resources for teaching mineralogy: Jump start your Mineralogy course with this topicl list of recommended resources that are particularly useful for the beginning phases of course design.
- Teaching activities: Classroom-ready exercises, problem sets and projects, complete with handouts, instructor notes and supporting materials.
- Visualizations that can be helpful in teaching about Mineralogy.
- Selected Readings that are especially useful for teaching mineralogy at the undergraduate level.
Additional resources: A collection of useful web-based learning materials suggested by faculty who teach mineralogy.
- Optical Mineralogy and Petrography: A collection of teaching resources and activities that include PowerPoint presentations, animations, class notes, problem sets and activities, and links to collections of photomicrographs.
- Teaching Mineral Physics: A collection of on-line resources on Teaching Mineral Physics developed as a collaboration between the On the Cutting Edge program and the Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences (COMPRES).
- Teaching Clay Mineralogy: A collection of resources on Teaching Clay Mineralogy with on-line resources and teaching activities that can be used in a variety of geology courses. This collection was developed to support the 2009 Clay Minerals Society Meeting.
- Teaching Phase Equilibria: From Integrating Research and Education, this web-based learning resource provides a comprehensive introduction to heterogeneous phase equilibria in the geosciences. This site contains the essential background information needed to understand phase equilibria, links to related resources, examples of worked problems, and teaching activities. Topics include the Clapeyron Equation, deriving and balancing metamorphic reactions, phase diagrams for teaching, and tutorials to ThermoCalc, MELTS, TWQ and Perplex.
Geochemical Instrumentation and Analysis: The Integrating Research and Education project includes a set of pages on geochemical instrumentation and analysis. These pages supply an on-line tutorial of the analytical techniques commonly used to characterize geological materials and aid novices (e.g. students, or scientists working out of their field) in becoming critical consumers and producers of data using the arsenal of mineralogical, petrological and geochemical analytical techniques available.
- 2011 Workshop: In August 2011, geoscience faculty members from around the country met at the University of Minnesota for a workshop on Teaching Mineralogy, Petrology, and Geochemistry in the 21st Century. Participants explored best practices in teaching mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry in the context of modern advances in understanding Earth systems, analytical and field methods, and information technologies. This workshop built on the success of previous workshops including the 1996 Teaching Mineralogy Workshop, the 2003 Teaching Petrology Workshop, and the 2005 and 2010 Teaching Geochemistry Workshops.
The 1996 Teaching Mineralogy workshop resulted in a volume of teaching materials, but it exists only in print form. [Brady et al., 1997]
Contribute materials: We encourage faculty to contribute course descriptions, teaching activities, and references to continue to build our collections.
- Email lists: Join the MSA-Talk email list, hosted by the Mineralogical Society of America, or the Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry email list to take part in discussions with colleagues who teach those topics.
- Visit the Mineralogy-Petrology-Geochemistry discussion board to submit your recommendations to identify the most significant contributions made in these fields to the geosciences, the larger scientific enterprise and to society. Post a new topic or add to existing topics to create a threaded archive to demonstrate the relevance, importance and centrality of mineralogy, petrology and geochemistry to the geosciences and beyond.