Teach the Earth > Paleontology > Course Descriptions > Invertebrate Paleontology

Invertebrate Paleontology

Diana Boyer

SUNY Oswego
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


This course is a required upper level course designed to expose students to fundamental theories and methods of paleontology including taxonomy, taphonomy, and paleoecology.

Course URL:
Subject: Geoscience:Paleontology
Resource Type: Course Information
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Paleontology
Course Size:

less than 15

Course Context:

This is an upper division course with prerequisites of historical geology and sedimentology/stratigraphy. About 1/2 of the students are Geology majors and 1/2 are Earth Science Education majors. The course includes 3 50 minute lecture periods and 1 three hour lab a week. Last semester there was 1 required 3 day field trip.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to
-identify fossils, interpret fossil assemblages and reconstruct depositional settings.
-know what resources to use and how to use them for identification of fossils and associated information
-collect appropriate information in the field for paleontological research
-Find and interpret scientific journal articles
-develop a hypothesis, methods, collect data, and make interpretations through an independent research project.
-effectively communicate results

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Required field trip give the students experience in the field with some of the realities of fossil collection and preservation. Assignments throughout the semester require students to become familiar with the paleontology literature and access scientific journals. The students are required to present these in class. Also an independent research project allows them to experience the scientific method and investigate in detail a specific aspect of paleontology that is interesting to them and present the results.

Skills Goals

Using resources available to find information.
Observational skills for interpretation of form and function
Using fossils as a tool to geological studies
Interpretation and communication of results (personal and others)

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Knowing that students are not going to retain much of the infomration required for this class I try to emphasize how to find the information as well. They are exposed to many Different sources of information are provided through labs, in class activities and research assignments. They are asked to present in both formal and informal settings, paleontological data and analysis from different sources.

Attitudinal Goals

-improving students' sense of healthy skepticism
-increasing student excitement/personal wonder about learning about the Earth
-fundamental understanding of evolution

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Information about the history of the science as well as how attitudes and interpretations have changed. I really try and emphasize what sort of data can and cannot be derived from fossils. As biology is not a requirement for geology majors of these students have had little or no exposure to the theory of Evolution, so for many this is their only exposure to this scientifically and politically important topic.


In class activities, class participation, final research project and presentation, 2 exams and a final, lab exercises and 2 lab exams, and 1 field trip.


syllabus_09 (Microsoft Word 294kB Jun4 09)

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