Internet Historical Geology (GEOL 1404-N1)

Amanda Palmer Julson
Blinn College


General principles of historical geology with emphasis on evolution of Earth and life through time. The internet format permits students to meet course requirements in a wide variety of schedule/location situations that would preclude attending the traditional on-campus course.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Online course

Institution Type:
Two Year College

Course Context:

This is an introductory, freshman-level course that has Physical Geology as a pre-requisite, but allows students lacking the pre-requisite to enroll with permission of instructor. Typically, students take the course to satisfy a general education requirement. The course has a required lab (the overall course grade combines lecture and lab components).

Course Content:

Topics covered in Historical Geology include an overview of the rock cycle and plate tectonic theory, with emphasis on stratigraphic principles, the fossil record, evolutionary theory, and paleogeographic map interpretation. Laboratory work includes basic study of rocks, interpretation of depositional environments and tectonic settings, stratigraphic sequence analysis, and fossil interpretation.

Course Goals:

Students completing this course successfully will realize that Earth has a long history, and will know the major milestones in the story of Earth and life. They will know how the tools of physical geology and biology are applied to reconstructing the story.

Course Features:

Labs are designed to reinforce the concepts from the lecture component of the course. Together they provide students an opportunity to understand how geological studies reveal Earth history.

The internet version of the course, which I teach during the summer, allows students the option of coming to campus to work directly with me and/or view additional specimens (they have a rock kit) or using online materials (e.g., photos of specimens) depending on their personal circumstances.

Course Philosophy:

Many students in this region have a "young-Earth" world view as a consequence of their cultural upbringing. Rather than challenge this directly, allowing the rocks (and facts) to speak for themselves can lead students to reconsider their perspective.

During the summer I need a great deal of flexibility in my schedule due to my family situation. I enjoy teaching the class in the online format because it allows students to take the course that couldn't do so otherwise.


There are weekly assessments which cover the reading assignments and lab exercises, as well as several major exams, lab tests and a final exam.

As an institution, we have recently begun a formal process of assessing our student learning outcomes. This will begin during Fall 2010, and take place over a 5-year cycle.


Teaching Materials:

Historical Geology Schedule - Summer 2010 (Acrobat (PDF) 86kB Jun21 10)

References and Notes:

Wicander and Monroe, "Historical Geology 6e"
There is also a custom lab manual and numerous online reading activities (including links to web resources).