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Earthquakes & Volcanoes

Ignacio Pujana
University of Texas at Dallas
Author Profile



This is an interdisciplinary science course offered in an online format. A flexible approach based on programmed self-instruction, with frequent tests to monitor progress, substitutes for the usual lecture with infrequent testing mode used in most courses. The course is divided into 10 sections (called Units), each of which corresponds to one or two chapters in the textbook. A Syllabus Quiz should be passed (can be repeated all times needed) in order to go on to test one, but those points do not count towards your grade. There is one test per Unit; therefore, the course consists of 10 tests.

Institution Type
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs

Course Size


Grade Level
College Upper (15-16)

Course Context

This is an introductory online course with no pre-requisites and does not serve as a prerequisite for other courses. Typically, 50% of the students take the course as pre-service elementary teachers, and 50% of the students take the course to satisfy a general education requirement. This course is taught in both an online format and a face-to-face format

Course Content

Course Goals

This course provides a broad overview of the science behind earthquakes and volcanoes, new insights they provide about the architecture, processes, and evolution of the earth, and their impact on humankind and other organisms. The plate tectonics model provides the central framework in which the many aspects of earthquakes and volcanoes are described.


The discussion tool is enabled but not used as an assessment tool.


Ten tests and a final report about a current event related to Earthquake or volcanic activity

Teaching Notes

Adaptations have been made that allow this course to be successful in an online environment

The most successful elements of this course are:

The final report, Final Report (Acrobat (PDF) 429kB Jun21 10)

Recommendations for faculty who teach a course like this:

It's in full development right this semester


Syllabus U2010 (Acrobat (PDF) 523kB Jun21 10)



"Natural disasters" by Patrick Abbot, seventh edition

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