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Designing an Effective Geochemistry Course
1. Set goals
Learn more about setting effective course goals in the Course Design Tutorial. You can also browse course descriptions and syllabi from your colleagues to see what topics your colleagues are teaching about.
2. Consider assessment options
Aligning your assessment strategies with the goals of your course is an essential part of the design process. You can learn more about assessment in the section about Assessing Student Learning in the Course Design Tutorial and through our module on Observing and Assessing Student Learning.
3. Select pedagogies and teaching activities
The pedagogic techniques highlighted below can provide inspiration as you consider various approaches that will help you achieve your course goals. The resource collections are organized to provide a rich set of materials to draw from in constructing the specific set of learning experiences you want for your students. Finally, explore the more in-depth information and ideas available in special topics.
Selected Pedagogical Approaches
Geochemistry courses help students build a variety of skills and critical thinking abilities. A selection of general pedagogies that lend themselves to the geosciences are found in the Teaching Methods module. One approach specifically useful to geochemistry skill development is
- Teaching with Geochemical Data: Whether students have access to geochemical instrumentation to gather data themselves or you are interested in using existing data sets, teaching with geochemical data will help solidify students' understanding of key geochemical principles.
Once you've identified the core learning goals for your course, you can use them to focus your search for relevant materials in our resource collections. The materials listed below reflect the contributions of faculty members from across the country.
- Course descriptions and syllabi, including learning goals and supporting information.
- Selected resources for teaching Geochemistry: Jump start your Geochemistry course with this list of recommended resources that are organized by topic.
- Teaching activities: Ready to use in the classroom, this collection includes activities, lab exercises, problem sets, and more. Descriptions of the activities include contextual information as well as learning goals, teaching materials, and assessment strategies.
- Visualizations that can be helpful in teaching concepts related to geochemistry.
- Additional resources: Websites and print resources recommended by faculty who teach about geochemistry.
- Teaching Phase Equilibria: From Integrating Research and Education, this web-based learning resource provides a comprehensive introduction to heterogeneous phase equilibria in the geosciences. This site contains the essential background information needed to understand phase equilibria, links to related resources, examples of worked problems, and teaching activities. Topics include the Clapeyron Equation, deriving and balancing metamorphic reactions, and Phase diagrams for teaching.
- Geochemical Instrumentation and Analysis: From Integrating Research and Education, this module provides an on-line tutorial of the analytical techniques commonly used to characterize geological materials. The goal is to help novices (such as students or scientists working out of their field) to gain an understanding of mineralogical, petrological and geochemical analytical techniques. This module covers X-ray crystallography, electron microbeam, elemental analysis, mass spectrometers and more. See the entire list of techniques covered on this site.
- Geochemical Instrument Registry: From the Petrology module, this registry provides faculty with a place to share information about analytical instruments such as SEM, ICP-MS, x-ray diffraction and more. If you would like to share access to the equipment at your institution, or if you would like to find access to instruments at other institutions, this is a great resource for you.
Workshops and Events
- 2013 Teaching Hydrogeology, Soils, and Low-T Geochemistry in the 21st Century: This workshop will bring together faculty who teach courses in hydrogeology, soils, low-T geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and upper level environmental geoscience to address questions of how to teach these disciplines most effectively at the undergraduate level. Application deadline is February 15, 2013.
- Teaching Mineralogy, Petrology, and Geochemistry in the 21st Century: Participants at an August 2011 workshop explored best practices in teaching mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry in the context of modern advances in understanding Earth systems, analytical and field methods, and information technologies. View the workshop program to download presentations and supporting materials. This workshop built on the success of previous workshops including the 1996 Teaching Mineralogy Workshop and the 2003 Teaching Petrology Workshop.
- 2010 Teaching Geochemistry Workshop: A workshop on teaching undergraduate geochemistry was held June 11-13, 2010 at the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville, TN. This workshop preceded the 2010 Annual Goldschmidt Conference. The workshop program contains presentations that were given at the workshop.
- 2005 Teaching Geochemistry Workshop: A workshop on teaching undergraduate geochemistry was held May 18-20, 2005 at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID. This workshop preceded the 2005 Annual Goldschmidt Conference. View the workshop program to download presentations and other supporting materials.
- Contribute Materials: We encourage faculty to contribute course descriptions, teaching activities, and references to continue to build our collections.
- Join the Geochemistry email list or the Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry email list to take part in discussions with colleagues who teach those topics. If you subscribe to the lists, you can also access the Geochemistry list archives or the Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry list archives.
- Visit the Mineralogy-Petrolgy-Geochemistry Community Discussion Board to submit your recommendations to identify the most significant contributions made in these fields to the geosciences, the larger scientific enterprise and to society. Post a new topic or add to existing topics to create a threaded archive to demonstrate the relevance, importance and centrality of mineralogy, petrology and geochemistry to the geosciences and beyond.