Using Project EDDIE modules in Historical and Analytical Geology

Sean Bryan, Colorado State University

About this Course

Historical and Analytical Geology

Lecture and Lab

Introductory Undergraduate


students in the course

EDDIE Module Developed

The Paleoclimate of the Last 2k Years Module examines the very recent geologic record of climate change and sets the stage for Anthropogenic climate change. It gives students practice graphing data in MS Excel, determining trends, and interpreting real proxy records. The module may be useful in a range of courses including Introductory Geoscience, Historical Geology, Global Change, Paleoclimatology, etc.

Jump to: Course Context | Teaching Details | Student Outcomes

Relationship of EDDIE Module(s) to my Course

The Paleoclimate of the last 2k years Module was used in our introductory-level Historical Geology course. This is the second course in the sequence typically taken by our geology majors, and a few non-majors also take the course. The course examines Earth systems through geologic time, and climate is a dominant theme through the course. This module was incorporated to be the students' exposure to the relatively recent climate record. A goal of the course is to build skills that students will use in later classes within the major, such as rock and fossil ID, map reading, and report writing. This module fits into this objective adding practice developing data manipulation and analysis skills. 
The module was scheduled to be taught during a lab period during the second half of the Spring 2020 semester. Unfortunately, this occurred during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when classes were rapidly shifted to online learning. In this situation, we shifted the lab to an online, asynchronous format. Students were given a video introducing the lab but then completed it on their own. This format worked fine in an emergency; however, we missed out on the discussion, synthesis, and peer learning that would have taken place in the classroom and we were not yet set up to facilitate in an online format.

Teaching Details

What key suggestions would you give to a colleague before they used the activity in their teaching?
Many of the datasets that contribute to the PAGES 2k compilation are messy and may not show expected trends. I would recommend that instructors be prepared to lead discussions about why individual records may not show the same trends as the global composite. Discussions can include the influence of variables other than temperature on proxies and local temperature variability. 
The Gallery Walk in Part C is an important component of the module. It allows students the opportunity to discuss with each other the individual records that they analyzed and explore some of the nuances associated with each record. If the module is going to be taught online, I would recommend holding a virtual session in place of the in-person gallery walk.

How did you address challenges in teaching with the module?
The shift in format during the COVID-19 Pandemic was challenging. Many students adapted to the changes just fine and were successful. However, the format made it difficult to help students who did not have prior experience using MS Excel. We were able to help some of these students using online help sessions and links to tutorials.

Student Outcomes

The module helped students develop basic skills such as describing changes though time and looking for trends. It also leads students to think about the differences between local and global change and the representativeness of individual records.

The students developed skills related to accessing data from a database, graphing data in MS Excel, and adding trendlines.