Teach the Earth > Geomorphology > Teaching Activities > Pinnacle Mountain Field Project

Pinnacle Mountain Field Project

Margaret E. (Beth) McMillan
Univ. of Arkansas at Little Rock
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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 http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

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 http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jun 24, 2008


Students collect, analyze, and interpret field data and identify and read literature on the possible origins of the block-fields on Pinnacle Mountain, central Arkansas.

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Undergraduate geomorphology course - upper-level elective.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Rock and mineral identification. Pace and compass methods. Topographic map interpretation.

How the activity is situated in the course

A culminating project.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

evaluation and interpretation of grain size, roughness, and orientation; construction of topographic profiles; compilation of field notes

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

formulation of hypotheses; data analysis; critical evaluation of competing models

Other skills goals for this activity

literature search; working with a field partner; operating hand-held GPS/PDA device.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students work in teams and on their own to determine the most likely origin of block fields on Pinnacle Mountain, central AR. Teams of two or three students collect and analyze field data on grain size, roughness, and orientation of boulders on Pinnacle Mountain. On their own, students research possible origins of block fields and interpret their results in a written report. This activity provides students with practice using field skills (including GPS/PDA experience), interpreting data, reading the literature, developing hypotheses, working in teams, and report writing.
Designed for a geomorphology course

Determining whether students have met the goals

The project instructions include a list of questions that must be addressed in the written report. I use this list as the rubric for assessing student performance.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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