Laura Triplett

Gustavus Adolphus College
Private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


In this geomorphology course, we spend the most time on the two most important forces that have shaped Minnesota's landscape over the past million years: glaciers and rivers. We will also explore how wind, ocean tides and currents, tectonics, gravity (i.e. landslides) and human activities shape the planet. Students conduct a small, original research project during the semester, with significant guidance and support from their classmates and me.

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Course Context:

This is an upper-level course required for the Geology and Environmental Studies majors. It has a required three-hour lab each week, and a weekend fieldtrip that is "required" as much as possible. The pre-requisite is our first semester geology course, Principles of Geology.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to propose hypotheses to explain field observations.
Students should be able to use geologic maps and aerial photos to interpret landscape history.
Students should be able to analyze medium to large datasets to answer questions.
Students should be able to compare the geomorphic processes dominant in human-impacted systems to those in natural (i.e. less-impacted) systems.
Students should be able to utilize primary and secondary literature to answer scientific questions.
Students should be able to clearly communicate scientific concepts to others.

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

In-class activities and lab activities are designed so that students will learn both technical and critical-thinking skills. Early in the semester, students begin planning their independent research projects, which in most cases will build on the lab activities and give them more practice toward achieving my discipline-related goals. I also design exams to have a practical component; for instance, students might be asked to interpret a geologic map or explain a photo of an outcrop.



Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 134kB Apr30 08)

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