Teach the Earth > Geophysics

Teaching Geophysics

Geophysics encompasses the study of both near-surface and deep Earth structures using some of the most novel as well as the most basic exploration techniques. In a geophysics course, students can learn how to conduct surveys to explore the ground under their feet and computer simulations of the structure of the interior of the planet. Geophysics also requires students to develop proficiency with quantitative methods and physical principles that are not always necessary in other disciplines. This set of web pages will help undergraduate faculty and students apply new approaches to teaching and learning geophysics.

Course Design & Pedagogy | Resource Collections | Special Topics | Workshops & Events | Get Involved

Designing an Effective Geophysics Course

1. Set goals

Explore example learning goals for Geophysics courses submitted by fellow faculty members. Learn more about setting effective course goals in the Course Design Tutorial. You can also explore course goals from others' Geophysics courses using the syllabi available in the course collection.

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 specific 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 more in-depth information and ideas available in special topics.

Selected Pedagogical Approaches

Geophysics courses help students build a variety of quantitative skills and critical thinking abilities. In addition to those listed below, a selection of pedagogies that lend themselves to skill development can be found in the Teaching Methods module.

  • Teaching Geophysics in the Field: A number of workshop presenters and participants have shared their expertise in teaching geophysics through field work. Here, you can benefit from their experiences by exploring their presentations and teaching activities.

Resource Collections

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, including course learning goals, syllabi, and supporting information.
  • Teaching activities, including classroom activities, lab exercises, problem sets, and more.
  • Visualization collections: These pages of visualizations, videos, and images are a rich source of materials for use in the classroom. The topics covered include earthquake events, isostasy and gravity, and plate tectonics.
  • Additional resources: Browse an array of resources recommended by faculty who teach about geophysics.

Special Topics

Workshops and Events

Get Involved

  • Contribute Materials: We encourage faculty to contribute course descriptions, teaching activities, and other materials to continue to build our collections.
  • Join the email list to take part in discussions with colleagues who teach Geophysics and to read past discussions.

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