Implementing a Major Physical Geology Course Revision with InTeGrate Modules

Tuesday 4:30pm-5:30pm Red Gym
Poster Session


Elizabeth Nagy-Shadman, Pasadena City College
An introductory physical geology class at a two-year college has been significantly revised during Spring 2016 by replacing about 50% of the laboratory activities with newly developed InTeGrate activities. By design InTeGrate activities incorporate real data, promote systems thinking, and focus on active-learning pedagogical techniques such as jigsaws, cooperative learning, gallery walks, concept mapping, role-playing, etc. A primary objective of the InTeGrate materials is to improve earth literacy of all undergraduate students. Emphasizing the relevance of earth science issues to the students' own lives facilitates this goal. New course materials used in this study included six plate boundary activities, six mineral resource activities, four soil resource activities, and two natural hazards activities. Each activity is designed to take 50-60 minutes. These additions necessitated removal of several activities from the previous course syllabus. One of the principal changes was the removal of a department-wide mineral exam. The preparation for this exam, which includes a class period dedicated to a "practice exam" and a class period to take the exam, accounts for almost half of the time needed for the new material. Other changes included shorter coverage of the three rock types, removal of an introductory lecture on universe/solar system formation, and removal of some ancillary topics such as a slab-dip exercise and a tsunami activity. Students were more successful on InTeGrate "scenarios" assessments, such as describing mitigation strategies that would decrease seismic risk, than they were at, say, describing the type of motion and prevailing stresses at the three types of plate boundaries. Given that many institutions consider introductory physical geology courses as an opportunity to identify future geoscience majors, the curricular changes described here presented geoscience topics in a more accessible manner and fostered interest among students traditionally turned-off by the disconnect between the course and their own lives.