Field Observations of Weathering and Mass Wasting

Lisa Davis
University of Alabama
Author Profile

  1. This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

    This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

    • Scientific Accuracy
    • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
    • Pedagogic Effectiveness
    • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
    • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

    For more information about the peer review process itself, please see

  2. This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see

This page first made public: May 2, 2008


Students are asked to identify and document, using photographs and sketches, weathering processes and mass wasting in their local area and to explain their observations in a written technical report using their photographs and sketches as supporting evidence for their observations and descriptions.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



300-level course for geography, geology, and environmental science majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Prior to completing this assignment students should become familiar with the different types of weathering (physical and chemical), specific weathering processes, and mass wasting types.

How the activity is situated in the course

stand-alone exercise


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Identification of geomorphic processes and landforms. Practice making field observations. Practice with technical writing.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

topographic map reading and interpretation is required for students to choose a field location suitable for observation; practice making and articulating observations of geomorphic processes and landforms; practice writing

Description of the activity/assignment

This activity requires students to locate local examples of physical and chemical weathering, as well mass wasting, for which they must identify the type of process involved and describe the resulting effects on landform development. The students must write up their observations in a brief, written report using a technical writing style, which must include labeled photographs and sketches that support their observations and descriptions.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Successful completion and submission of written report.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials