Learning Assessment #7 - Maps & Structures

Leslie Reid1, Ben Cowie1, Joel Cubley2, Michelle Speta3
1University of Calgary, 2Yukon College, 3University of Alberta


An in-class activity that tests students' understanding of geological maps and structures (faults and folds).

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This activity was used in an introductory physical geology course that is also open to students in all faculties, and is a mandatory course for geoscience majors. No pre-requisite courses required. The course page is available at: http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/coursedesign/goalsdb/65489.html

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must have an understanding of faults, folds and all related terminology (e.g. hanging wall vs. foot wall, axial plane, hinge line etc.). Students must be comfortable with the concepts of strike and dip and the difference between map view and cross-section view.

How the activity is situated in the course

This assignment is part of a series of in-class activities known as learning assessments. However, it would also be suitable for use as a stand-alone exercise. Students are strongly encouraged to work in groups, however each student must submit their own assignment. Learning assessments are all "open book" and students are encouraged to use their textbooks and other external resources to help them complete their assignments.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Learning to Interpret the structural geology of an outcrop, given only information that one would observe in the field, and drawing a geological map based on the interpretation.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Analysis of data and synthesis of ideas (e.g. Given a strike, dip and way up indicator, what are the possible structural interpretations for the outcrop?)

Other skills goals for this activity

Writing, working in groups, using external resources (e.g. internet, textbooks)

Description of the activity/assignment

Given a cross-sectional diagram of two rock outcrops (From Earth: Portrait of a Planet 4th edition by Stephan Marshak. Copyright © 2012, 2008, 2005, 2001 by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.), Part 1 of this activity asks students to sketch a fault structure that would explain the rock configuration. Labels for all important parts of the fault are required (hanging wall, foot wall, arrows indicating movement and the maximum stress direction). The fault must be identified as either normal or reverse. Only one of two possible solutions is required.

Given a map template, Part 2 asks students to sketch a geological map of the outcrops based on their fault from Part 1. Required elements include all lithological contacts, strike/dip symbols, structural labels and a proper legend.

Part 3 of this activity gives students the same schematic cross-section as in Part 1, except now they have to draw folds that would explain the rock configuration. Labels for the hinge line, axial plane and maximum stress direction must be included.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Learning assessments are returned to students during a review period where the instructor devotes a class to going over the activity and explaining common errors. Learning assessments are graded using a checklist-style rubric which is a more detailed version of checklist provided to students with the assignment. Using the graded checklist as a guide, students complete a feedback activity during the review period, which gives them an opportunity to reflect on their understanding of the concepts covered in the learning assessment. The feedback activities are submitted, allowing the instructor to determine whether students have met the goals of the activity.

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