GEOL 1114 General Geology (Online Lecture with Hybrid Lab)

Wendi J. W. Williams
NorthWest Arkansas Community College (and also University of Arkansas at Little Rock)


I facilitate two sections of a 4 semester unit General Geology course (lecture plus lab) in an online/hybrid format. Students take the traditional "lecture" portion online using a course management system, and meet once weekly for the hybrid lab sessions. Traditional physical geology topics are covered per the articulation agreement with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, in order to maximize transfer to other degree-granting institutions.

Course URL:
Course Size:

Course Format:
Lecture and lab

Institution Type:
Two Year College

Course Context:

This is an introductory physical geology (online lecture with hybrid lab (meets face to face (f2f)) that is delivered currently using the Blackboard CE course management system licensed by NWACC. The other ~10 sections are taught on campus by faculty colleagues generally without online support. Students earn 4 semester hours of core science lecture plus lab credits for transfer into non-major (primarily) and major (estimate <5% program-wide)tracks at both public and private colleges and universities. About one third of my community college students (all female for the past several years) are in the early childhood / elementary education associates degree program. A few percent annually are post-baccalaureate students taking needed natural science courses for their 5th year graduate program or alternative teacher recruitment tracts in Arkansas (for mainly middle childhood level licensures, which is 5th - 8th grade in our state ). Overall, >95% of my students are completing this course for transfer to baccalaureate degrees. The majority of my students work full time, have children, and are over 25 years old.

Course Content:

Course content is described in the provided Syllabus in general terms, and shown in the "Performance Tracker" file I provide to supplement the Syllabus. The discussion threads, assignments, lab modules, and other assessments with topics are shown in that file. The timing of those materials are provided in the Content Schedule file supplement, also provided here.

Course Goals:

Course goals are articulated in the provided Syllabus. The focus and terminology used are set by the Division of Science and Mathematics / Geology Program.

Course Features:

I facilitate individual and collaborative learning in both the online and hybrid f2f settings of this course. As summarized in the provided Performance Tracker file, there are multiple assessments during the semester. Notably, discussion threads are tied to expand chapter-related learning modules to a more personal experience and critical thinking level; for example, we use the FEMA Firmette tool to consider flood zones and "location, location, location" relative to geology, placement ramifications, geohazards remediation/mitigation, and discussions about insurance.

Course Philosophy:

I use Universal Design in Learning through the hybrid course. This not only is appropriate for better inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, but also the broad range of learning styles brought to the learning setting by my students. The lab f2f hybrid format appears to work best with the overall student population we teach here in NW Arkansas. The flexibility of online works particularly well for my students that are employed full time and/or single parents; many are online after 11 PM.


Using rubrics released to students prior to their activities, I use a blend of individual and collaborative completion of discussions, inquiry-style assignments (some online through Virtual Courseware), lab experiences, proctored exams, and optional team project.


Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

All NWACC Sections/ Required Text for Lecture Portion: Physical Geology, 12th Edition by Charles C. Plummer, Diane H. Carlson, and David McGeary, published by McGraw Hill, 2009. Hybrid was permitted to use this Lab Manual, however: The Laboratory Manual of Physical Geology, 8th Edition by the American Geological Institute and the National Association of Geoscience Educators, 2008 . I also use various internet sites throughout the course. This includes the Earth Revealed episodes available through free online streaming at , use of career information and "Why Study Earth?" (DVD rather than YouTube) from the American Geophysical Institute, Education White Paper regarding "The Nature of Science" and various Position Statements from the Geological Society of America, and various earthquake educational resources through the IRIS Consortium.