Teach the Earth > Mineralogy > Teaching Activities > A Term-Long Mineralogy Lab Practical Exam

A Term-Long Mineralogy Lab Practical Exam

Kurt Hollocher
Union College
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Apr 29, 2008


This term-long project involves identifying a set of 65 mineral hand samples by their distinguishing characteristics.

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This activity is designed for an undergraduate required course in mineralogy and is generally for sophomore or junior level students.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should be familiar with common mineral identification techniques such as describing luster, crystal habit, cleavage/fracture, streak, specific gravity, smell, magnetism, etc. as well as XRD as an identification technique.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is a stand-alone exercise, but is part of a larger volume of classroom and laboratory activities from "Teaching Mineralogy," a workbook published by the Mineralogical Society of America, Brady, J., Mogk, D. W., and Perkins, D., (editors), 1997,406 pp.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Students should be able to provide accurate descriptions of unknown mineral samples in order to identify them by the end of the term.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This activity involves synthesis of ideas and data and data analysis from multiple sources to correctly identify mineral samples.

Other skills goals for this activity

This activity may allow students to become more familiar with mineral identification techniques, including using analytical equipment such as an XRD as well as strengthening their skills to search through literature and the WWW to help them identify the minerals.

Description of the activity/assignment

This term-long project involves identifying a set of 65 unknown mineral samples through various common mineral identification techniques including their physical properties (e.g. streak, luster, habit, density, cleavage/fracture, etc.) and through the use of XRD.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students have met the goals of this activity if they have correctly identified the minerals and have given adequate support for how they identified each mineral.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Brady, J., Mogk, D. W., and Perkins, D., (editors), 1997, Teaching Mineralogy, a workbook published by the Mineralogical Society of America, 406 pp.

Klein, C., and Hurlbut, C.S. Jr., 1993, Manual of Mineralogy (21st edition). John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, 681 p.

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