Field Project: Fossil Collection, Identification, and Report Writing

Steve Leslie
James Madison University
Author Profile

  1. This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

    This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the 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

  2. This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see

This page first made public: May 25, 2009


The primary purposes of this exercise are to assemble a collection of fossils in the field, to gain experience in fossil identification, to interpret the mode of life and environment in which the organisms lived, and to present this in a written format . This exercise is designed to sharpen the observational skills that are steadily developed during lab and integrate them with lecture concepts.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



Undergraduate elective

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

I do this early in the class. There is really no great preparation needed.

How the activity is situated in the course

The collection is made early in the course and project that is due near end of the term.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Observation and accurate description of taxa, interpretation of mode of live and environment, report wrtting.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Use of primary and web-based literature. Knowledge and comprehension of systematics. Evaluation of depositional environment and mode of life.

Other skills goals for this activity

Writing, computer and organizational skills.

Description of the activity/assignment

Determining whether students have met the goals

Grading of the reports will be based on accuracy of the identifications, readability of the illustrations, report language, and adherence to guidelines.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

New TTE Logo Small

Teaching in the Field resources from across Teach the Earth »

Key Resources:

Join the Community: or Search

Paleontology resources from across Teach the Earth »

Key Resources:

Join the Community:

or Search