Phase Diagrams

Dexter Perkins
University of North Dakota
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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)
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This page first made public: Jan 18, 2006


This is a somewhat lengthy homework assignment that introduces students to phase diagrams. It is a tutorial that stands alone and does not need much introduction.

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Undergraduate Petrology class or a graduate Phase Equilibria class.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

No previous skills are necessary. This is an introductory learning exercise.

How the activity is situated in the course

We use this assignment early in our discussions of phase diagrams. Rather than lecture on this material, I find it better to let students do this exercise and learn it for themselves. Then we go over any sticking points.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goal of this assignment is for students to understand what phase diagrams are and how they are used. They learn about the phase rule and what it means. They are also introduced to some of the fundamental terminology of mineral equilibria and phase diagrams.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Phase equilibria and phase diagrams are very abstract, yet they have real concrete implications. The goal of this exercise is to help students bridge the abstract-concrete gap.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

This handout and problem set is a stand alone tutorial that introduces students to the basics of phase diagrams and the phase rule. It is a rather lengthy exercise, suitable as a homework assignment. It can replace lectures and yields superior learning.

Determining whether students have met the goals

It is a success if the students do the assignment.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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