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Introduction to Geology

John Fountain

North Carolina State University
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs


The course utilizes a group-oriented, inquiry-based learning approach to examine the principles and applications of physical geology. This course is designed for non-science majors. Lecture and lab are integrated in two three-hour meetings per week.

Course URL:
Subject: Geoscience:Geology
Resource Type: Course Information:Goals/Syllabi
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14)
Ready for Use: Course Goals Only
Course Type: Entry Level:Physical Geology
Topics: Solid Earth
Course Size:


Course Context:

This is an introductory, general education course for non-science majors. It has no prerequisites and does not serve as a prerequisite for other courses. It will be the only science course most of the students take.

Course Goals:

Students will develop the ability to analyze environmental problems from a geological perspective. They will be able to identify the scientific issues involved, develop an understanding of the underlying processes through research, then collect and analyze the available data. They will be able to summarize the problem, the data and their interpretation both orally and in written form.

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

The course uses a series of group projects in which students analyze a current environmental issue, research the underlying principles and available data. They then analyze the problem and design a study to provide data. After acquiring and analyzing the data the results are presented in written and oral formats.

Skills Goals

oral presentations
critical analysis of current events from media coverage

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

The projects, which become progressively more complex, require each of the skills listed above. Adequate completion of the projects requires students to achieve each of the goals listed.

Attitudinal Goals

develop skills at applying the scientific approach to current issues

develop an appreciation of the role of science in society

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

The project involve using the scientific approach and provide concrete illustrations of the role of science in society as they are all related to current environmental problems


Science attitude surveys are given at the start and end of the course. Papers analyzing background articles on each project are graded (with a rubric) for each project. Lab reports and final reports on each project are graded (with rubrics).

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