Scott White: Using Planning for Failure: Landslide Analysis in GEOL 315: Surface and Near-Surface Processes at University of South Carolina-Columbia
About this Courseupper division major course for Geological Sciences and for Environmental Sciences
Syllabus for GEOL 315 Spring 2019 (Acrobat (PDF) 1000kB May28 19)
Surface and Near-surface Processes is a majors level course for both the Geological Sciences and the Environmental Sciences majors. Students have diverse paths to reach this course, and while most are comfortable with computation and quantitative decision-making, some students do struggle to develop those skills. This course is taught as a traditional lecture and lab, with some elements of active learning during the lecture portion. This was a first attempt at introducing a sequence of labs that built on previous labs directly and a first attempt at introducing GIS into the curriculum for Geological majors. This presented a major step forward in curriculum design, a new challenge for the students, and some interesting times during the lab portion. This module provided students with the ability to immerse themselves in a subject that is has obvious societal relevance; this helped them engage with the material and rise to the challenges of learning mass wasting concepts while developing new software skills. The module also demonstrated to students how geosciences influence policy and decision-making, the importance of integrating social science and geoscience, and a what goes into building a more resilient community.
My Experience Teaching with GETSI MaterialsIn this course, we used all of the modules as written. We uploaded datasets to a computer server on the night before the lab and provided printouts of the lab instructions for students to follow. One slight change that was implemented was a focus on using the Puerto Rico data. We only lightly used the Arizona datasets as needed to help develop a deeper understanding of the issues in Puerto Rico.
Relationship of GETSI Materials to my Course
The course, GEOL 315, has 12 lab periods. We start with surface processes, move from basic topographic analysis to surface hydrology to groundwater. As the semester goes on students work with increasingly quantitative datasets. This module was implemented in the third week of the course as one of their first exercises after introduction to topography and elevation surveying. These labs comprised the capstone of the first half of the course on geomorphology.