Teach the Earth > Oceanography > Course Descriptions > Oceanography


Martin B. Farley

University of North Carolina at Pembroke,
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


The course emphasizes the "container" of the ocean, the ocean contents, ocean processes, and what happens when these interact.

Subject: Geoscience:Oceanography
Resource Type: Course Information
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Oceanography, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience
Earth System Topics: Oceans
Course Size:

Course Context:

This is an introductory course. Historically, the official audience has been science education majors but this will broaden in the future now that our department has an undergraduate major. An assortment of other students, principally from the sciences, have also taken the course. While the course has our general education Earth Science as a prerequisite, this has just been used to screen out uninterested students. I teach the course as about 50 % lecture and 50 % lab embedded in the lecture period. It has a Saturday field trip to the coast near Fort Fisher, NC.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to:

  • Determine how maps distort and why this is important
  • Interpret bathymetry and perform simple navigation
  • Use Math to calculate important stuff and know when to apply particular equations
  • Explain the structure of the ocean and analyze how processes (circulation, waves, tides) operate in this structure
  • Synthesize sources of oil in the sea and how they relate to human activity
  • Interpret the history of Atlantic coastal change and predict practicality of beach replenishment

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

The course includes lab activities immediately after they come up in lecture, so that the hands-on and lecture components are directly linked. Exams include lab questions, so students have to demonstrate they understand what was done in lab and can apply it to a new situation.

Skills Goals

  • Building quantitative and graphical skills
  • Critical reading of literature on oil in the sea and NC coastal change

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

The hands-on activities, both short (20 minutes or less) and full-fledged labs incorporate math and graph activities. Development here is assessed by inclusion of lab questions on exams. The readings are discussed in class, which is informally assessed, and there are also exam questions.


  • Three exams (short answer, some choice of questions; lab exercises)
  • Short in-class labs from the textbook and my own creations
  • Labs (longer, often multiple period, labs)
  • Discussion of class readings


Oceanography (GLY 2260) Syllabus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 22kB May29 13)

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