Coastal Erosion Online Discussion

Sheila Roberts
Bowling Green State University
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This assignment is designed to get students to see the application of geology to a local problem, coastal erosion along the Lake Erie shoreline. I think the strength of this assignment is that many of the students have been to beaches and other sites along Lake Erie, but are totally unaware that there are erosion problems. In this exercise, they not only have to understand the geology of coastal erosion, but they have to think about what should be done along the shoreline.

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This is an introductory physical/historical geology course with no associated lab.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must understand coastal processes (movement of sand along beaches, focusing of wave energy, impact of man made structures on coastal erosion, sources and sinks of beach materials, etc.)

How the activity is situated in the course

Students are required to participate in online discussions about several topics in this course (the number depends on whether it is a summer or academic year course).


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Impact of man made structures on coastal erosion.
Understand that there are applications of geology to real problems.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students must synthesize what they know about coastal erosion and critically evaluate options for dealing with coastal erosion.

Other skills goals for this activity

Improve writing and critical thinking skills, be able to work in online groups.

Description of the activity/assignment

The students are given the following:

Read the articles below about erosion along the Lake Erie shoreline and discuss them. What causes the erosion? What can be done to prevent erosion? Should people be allowed to build structures to protect their property from erosion? Should people be allowed to live along the shoreline in high erosion areas?

Students are expected to have completed the coastal erosion module (read text book, view powerpoint lecture and take a quiz) and read articles regarding coastal erosion along the Lake Erie coastline. In the online discussion, students must show that they understand coastal processes, the impact of man made structures on coastal processes, and can apply their values as they discuss what should be done, if anything, to reduce the impact of coastal erosion.

Teaching Tips

Adaptations that allow this activity to be successful in an online environment

This was designed as an online activity. I have also used it in face-to-face courses (students participate in online discussion prior to in-class discussion).

Elements of this activity that are most effective

This gets students thinking about how what they learn in class can be used to solve real problems faced by the local community and/or the world. Although some students propose impractical solutions, they are at least thinking.

Recommendations for other faculty adapting this activity to their own course:

Find local issues and/or global issues that show how geology can be used to solve problems.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I use a rubric (attached below). In their posts, students must demonstrate that they have read the book and articles. Their posts should indicate that they understand the impact of solutions they propose and that are proposed by others.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

The Lake Erie Coastal Erosion Problem in Ohio -
State of Ohio Mitigation Plan - Coastal Erosion -

Coastal Erosion Online Discussion --Discussion  



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