Teach the Earth > Course Design > Course Goals/Syllabus Database > Geomorphology


Cathy Baker

Arkansas Tech University
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


Geomorphology is an upper level course which provides a thorough background in land forms and the processes that shape the Earth's surface.

Course URL:

Subject: Geoscience:Geology:Geomorphology
Resource Type: Course Information:Goals/Syllabi
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16)
Course Type: Upper Level:Geomorphology/Surface Processes
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Geomorphology, Teach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:Teaching in the Field
Course Size:

less than 15

Course Context:

This is an upper level course that requires prerequisites of physical geology, historical geology, structural geology, and petrology. It is a required course for students in both the professional geology and environmental geology options of the geology major at Arkansas Tech University. The course has a required 3-hour laboratory and mandatory two weekend field trips. The course is field intensive with the majority of the weekly laboratories involved in field excursions.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to:
  • compile field observations in an organized and professional manner
  • recognize geomorphic regimes through study of topographic and geologic maps, air photographs, and satellite imagery
  • recognize geomorphic regimes through field studies
  • choose and apply appropriate systematic analysis to land forms (for example, choose correct stress/strain and strength analyses to surficial materials)
  • design and implement a geomorphic site analysis
  • design and empletment a land-use evaluation based on sound planning practices

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

Goals are met through:
  • lectures which are strongly supported by extensive Power Point illustrated programs
  • "in lab" exercises such as review of landform recognition through a variety of imagery
  • "in lab" exercises which integrate online information such as USGS river gage information
  • field based lab exercises
  • field trips
  • written site assessments

Skills Goals

Skill goals include:
  • field observation
  • student writing
  • quantitative abilities
  • critical analysis of web sites
  • accessing and critically reading the geologic literature

Employer feedback has indicated that students especially need well developed writing skills, and many of the skill goals in this course involve improving writing skills.

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

Skill goals are met primarily through completion of course in-lab exercises, field exercises, field trips, field notes, examinations, and site analysis.

Attitudinal Goals

Although not stated directly in course syllabus, it is my personal objective to improve students':
  • confidence in their geological observational skills
  • confidence in their note-taking ability
  • awareness of environmental impact of geological processes


Students are evaluated using:

  • examinations: Four examinations are administered. All examinations are comprised of scenario-based problem-solving style questions.
  • in-lab exercises
  • field based exercises
  • field trip participation and note-taking
  • landform analysis project


Syllabus (Microsoft Word 49kB May5 08)

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