G101: Introduction to Geology: Solid Earth

Deron Carter,
Linn-Benton Community College


An introductory course in Physical Geology, focusing on the formation of earth materials in the context of plate tectonics. The lab and lecture are integrated to promote active learning.

Course Type: Intro Level:Physical Geology
Course Size:

Course Format:
Integrated lecture and lab

Institution Type:
Two Year College

Course Context:

This is an introductory course. The prerequisite is Math 065, Elementary Algebra. Typically, 50% of the students take the course as a general education requirement, and 50% of the students take the course to satisfy a major requirement in Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources, or Fish and Wildlife.

In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses?
Yes. Both courses cover the same topics.

If students take a non-majors course, and then decide to become a major, do they have to go back and take an additional introductory course?
Yes. In some cases this may be waived by the department.

Course Content:

This course covers the formation of Earth materials in the context of plate tectonics, and focuses on related seismic and volcanic hazards in the Pacific NW. Students complete labs analyzing geophysical data, and rock and mineral samples, and attend one weekend field trip.

Course Goals:

More "touchy, feely" outcomes that are difficult to measure:
  1. I want students to better understand the natural world and become more curious of how the Earth works.
  2. I want students to become better informed citizens, so when the media makes statements about science and geology, they can better evaluate them.
  3. I want students to develop and improve life-long learning skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and teamwork.
Measurable outcomes/goals:
  1. Students will be able to integrate a variety of data sets to interpret plate tectonic settings.
  2. Students will be able to identify common igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks and rock-forming minerals.
  3. Students will be able to predict where common rock types form given a geologic scenario.
  4. Students will be able to describe evidence for past subduction zone earthquakes in the PNW and predict future hazards.
  5. Students will be able to apply quantitative methods to solve a geologic problem.
  6. Use geospatial technologies to solve geologic problems and answer geologic questions.
What are the main features of the course that help students achieve these goals?
  • The course has weekly reading quizzes to provide incentive for students to do the reading and have background before class.
  • The course has weekly GoogleEarth assignments to assist students in developing spatial skills.
  • The course has a capstone lab in which mock outcrops are described and interpreted in the context of plate tectonics.


Through weekly reading quizzes, online homework using GoogleEarth, labs, in-class PRS clicker questions, field trip report.


Teaching Materials:

Essentials of Geology by Marshak
Ease of reading, use of photographs and figures.

References and Notes: