Online Physical Geology for Educators 710 (graduate level)

Ann Holmes
University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
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Graduate level Physical Geology for Educators
Course description: Earth's internal structure, plate tectonics, the rock cycle, weathering and earth materials, natural resources, geochemical cycles and the basis for geologic time and the history and nature of science.

Institution Type

Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course Size

less than 15



Grade Level

Course Context

This course is part of the curriculum for a newly developed online Master of Science degree in Geoscience Education offered through UT Martin. It is one of the initial courses graduate students will take. This course is completely online.

Course Content

Topics covered: Plate tectonics, minerals, rocks and the rock cycle, volcanism, weathering and soils, structural deformation, earthquakes, Earth's interior, surface and groundwater, climate system

Educators (pre- and in-service) taking this class will prove content knowledge through online exams and will create grade-appropriate K-12 materials about these topics.

I don't know exactly how this will differ from F2F classes yet. I will teach it for the first time in the Fall 2010.

Course Goals

  • create activities and curriculum for K-12 classrooms
  • interpret geological data
  • develop presentation skills


yes, there will be discussions about the readings (educational and geological).


Peer evaluation of the PowerPoint products, classroom activities and online exams to document content knowledge.

Teaching Notes

Adaptations have been made that allow this course to be successful in an online environment

I am not able to state this at this time.

The most successful elements of this course are:


Recommendations for faculty who teach a course like this:

Having everything online before the class begins will make teaching it easier I think.


Syllabus (Microsoft Word 61kB Jun22 10)



Grotzinger, Jordan, Press & Siever, 5th edition, Understanding Earth

Other References

  • Rise & Fall of Geology in 19th Century American Secondary Schools, Corgan & Stearns 2008
  • The origin of the land under the sea, Kelemen, 2009
  • The Mississippi's Curious Origins, Van Arsdale & Cox, 2007
  • Use of Lava Lamp as an analogy in the geoscience classroom, Tolley & Richmond, 2003
  • The Earth's Elements, Kirshner, 1994
  • Evolution of Minerals, Hazen, 2010
  • Canyon Cutting on a Grand Scale, Atkinson & Leeder, 2008
  • Geology, Seismology & Earthquake Hazard of the New Madrid & Southern Appalachian Seismic Zones: A comparative overview, Munsey, online article
  • Seismic Sentries, Simpson, 2007
  • The Earth's Missing Ingredient, Hirose, 2010
  • "Teach Your Teachers Well", Engel, Op-Ed
  • "America's Science Test", Brainard, Chronicle of Higher Ed
  • "Helping Students Adapt to an Empowered Classroom", Costello & Brunner, Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 2008.

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