Element Partitioning and Distribution Coefficients
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Students learn how to calculate distribution coefficients, look them up using the Geochemical Earth Reference Model database, and apply them when reading primary literature.
This exercise is the first lab in a junior-level undergraduate Topics in Geochemistry course for geology majors.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Students are required to have had mineralogy. They may or may not have had crystalline petrology. They also may or may not have had prior experience reading primary literature.
How the activity is situated in the course
This exercise is provided as the first lab in the course. Students spend one lab period completing the exercise, then take time outside of class to read a manuscript, answer a list of guide questions, and compile a summary. In the following lab, time is allocated to discussion of the paper using the guide questions to initiate discussion points.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Students learn how distribution coefficients are calculated, the conditions that influence partitioning behavior, and how to apply this knowledge when reading primary literature.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Students learn how to read scientific literature with a critical mindset so they can evaluate the merit of the interpretation presented in the paper.
Other skills goals for this activity
Students learn to use a global database, the Geochemical Earth Reference Model. Students also work together outside of class to discuss the assigned reading, facilitating inter-student relationships.
Description of the activity/assignment
In this activity, students learn how to calculate distribution coefficients, the factors that influence partitioning behavior, and how to apply this knowledge when reading primary literature. The exercise utilizes the Geochemical Earth Reference Model database to familiarize students with the specific elements and minerals discussed in the assigned journal article. Students summarize the journal article individually, and discuss the article as a class. The exercise is appropriate for undergraduate-level geochemistry and petrology courses. Students learn critical writing, reading, and discussion skills.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Students are graded on the exercise, their summary, which typically includes their answers to the guide questions, and their contribution to class discussion. Determining the level of student understanding is typically achieved during the class discussion.More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Acrobat (PDF) 35kB May20 10)