GEOL 1122: Introductory Geosciences II

Christy C. Visaggi,
Georgia State University


This course is designed to present a body of knowledge regarding the origin, development, and human interaction with materials in and near the surface of the earth. This knowledge will provide important understanding regarding the origin and evolution of the planet, and will give you a useful perspective on environmental issues of our time.

Course Type: Intro Level:Earth Science
Course Size:

Course Format:
Students enroll in separate lecture and lab components. The lecture is taught by the professor and the lab is taught by TAs.

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, primarily masters programs

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with the first semester (GEOL 1121) as a prerequisite. Most of the students are non-majors (>90%) and are simply fulfilling their science sequence required by the university. They must concurrently enroll in lab, which is somewhat linked in concept, but is run separately in the department. However, their lab grade is incorporated into their final grade for the lecture portion.

In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses?

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. Majors and non-majors enroll in the same introductory course (GEOL 1121 & GEOL 1122). This course is how we often are able to obtain new majors (as most students initially enroll in it for fulfilling other degree requirements).

Course Content:

Topics covered are a quick review a sedimentary rocks and a more in depth look at particular settings such as coasts, glaciers, streams, groundwater, and deserts. Time, methods of dating, stratigraphy, fossils, evolution, and the history of life up to modern day climate change are additionally reviewed. Depending on the instructor, more emphasis is placed on certain subjects. Personally, I strive to incorporate small groups lecture tutorials, writing assignments, and online homework as other means of learning besides what is mostly a lecture class. I focus heavily on place-based learning in Georgia and use maps for features found across the USA overall. There is no field experience, but I stress that knowing how to interpret geologic information is important for their future lives (e.g., flood zones and buying a house, recognizing natural hazards of different regions due to the geology, etc.).

Course Goals:

Students should be able to:
  • Explain processes of fossilization and recognize key groups in the record.
  • Understand how scientists are able to date rocks using different methods and reconstruct ancient environments.
  • Identify geologic landscapes and how they originated.
  • Know the sequence of major events in geologic time.
  • Demonstrate how humans are linked to their surroundings including recognition of hazards to be aware of as science-literate citizens.
  • Read maps and in particular focus on regional features in Georgia.
  • Improve their writing skills and conceptual understanding of class material through additional geological research.
  • Discuss what geologists do as a profession and why the field is important.
  • Foster an appreciation of the natural world and enthusiasm for learning more geology in the future!
What are the main features of the course that help students achieve these goals?
Each semester I have a writing assignment that allows them to integrate class concepts in a unique way by studying something beyond what we cover in class (e.g., geocareers, hometown geology, geology in the movies, geology of countries and its relationship to the economy and tourism, etc). I also utilize maps and place-based learning by focusing on familiar landscapes in Georgia, follow up homework online, Jeopardy review periods before exams, and small groups activities in class to enhance their interest and understanding of various topics address in the course (e.g., interactive demos, worksheets, concept mapping, etc).


I have used class evaluations set up by GSU, my own mid-semester anonymous evaluations, end of semester "Top Ten" lists, class grades, and more.


GEOL 1122 Spring Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 649kB Mar11 14)

Teaching Materials:

Essentials of Geology (Marshak)
This is the book are department has used.

Mix of labs from the NAGT/AGI and materials designed by people at GSU. manual (I believe)
These are choices made by the department (except for new materials designed in part by me and a student in the College of Education).

References and Notes:

Key Reading Resources:
SmartWork homework via the Marshak Text online.

Key Pedagogic Resources:
Not texts, but experiences as a TA earlier on in my education, conversations with colleagues, and the SERC workshop last summer!

Other Supporting Materials:
Spring 2013 Writing Assignment - Writing Assignment (Acrobat (PDF) 325kB Mar11 14)