independent soil investigation project

Stephanie Ewing, Montana State University - Bozeman

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Students demonstrate their skill in soils investigation and interpretation through independent projects undertaken in groups of one to three and presented in class using visual aids.

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Upper division soils class

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Ability to describe and interpret soils in terms of key processes
Use of public tools like web soil survey, geologic maps, university library collections
Fundamentals of soil taxonomy

How the activity is situated in the course

Culminating project


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Explore soils and soil environments that students are curious about.
Students demonstrate ability to describe and interpret soils in terms of key processes.
Students draw upon their unique talents to demonstrate something new and interesting to the class and to the instructor.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students must distill what's important for a brief but effective presentation both to their peers and to their instructor. The best presentations involve interpretive discussion and review ahead of time and tend to amaze and impress the class.

Other skills goals for this activity

Oral presentation and working in groups.
Written reports are the final requirement.

Description and Teaching Materials

Please see the slides and supporting material for illustration of field trips and independent project requirements.

Independent project rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 70kB Jun9 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Students are assessed for clarity of presentation (articulating motivation, explaining location, coherently conveying what they say and how they interpret it), ability to address questions, and written articulation of the exercise. Students also participate in querying presenters.

References and Resources