This material was developed and reviewed through the GETSI curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:
Final review, editing, and approval by GETSI for this material is still pending.
- team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
- multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
- real in-class or field camp/course testing of materials in multiple courses with external review of student assessment data.
- multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the GETSI materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
- created or reviewed by content experts for accuracy of the science content.
This page first made public: Dec 5, 2019
Scott White: Using Planning for Failure: Landslide Analysis in GEOL 315: Surface and Near-Surface Processes at University of South Carolina-Columbia
Provenance: Scott White (University of South Carolina)
Reuse: This item is offered under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ You may reuse this item for non-commercial purposes as long as you provide attribution and offer any derivative works under a similar license.
About this Course
upper division major course for Geological Sciences and for Environmental Sciences
Three 50-minute lectures and a 3-hour lab per week
Syllabus for GEOL 315 Spring 2019 (Acrobat (PDF) 1000kB May28 19)
Overview of groundwater, surface water hydrology, sediment transport, river systems, and coastal processes
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.
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
My Experience Teaching with GETSI Materials
In 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.
- The class did Unit 1 for Cloud Compare and ArcGIS. For each we included a lecture that covered the conceptual background of the software, and reviewed various examples of change detection to show how the method works and can be applied to solve geological problems.
- It took a couple of attempts to get Cloud Compare installed and running on the PC's in the computer lab. I'm glad that we started this process a week before the first lab met.
- One of our 1-hour lectures was devoted to the geology of Puerto Rico, tropical soils and landslide susceptibility and then Hurricane Maria and it's impact. It worked really well with the material we were learning on mass wasting.
- Calculations and doing quantitative analysis for Unit 2 posed the biggest challenge to the students. We focused on Puerto Rico datasets. This was plenty for the students to analyze in the 3-hour lab period with the issues involved in learning how to operate the GIS.
- Tip: give students plenty of time to learn the software and expect unusual data glitches with loading some datasets. Students experience frustration when Arc pulls it's little glitchy data, and being very explicit about following the directions in the lab exactly is very important.
- Preparing the final hazard susceptibility maps was the lab that the students seemed to enjoy the most. At this point even students who were new to ArcGIS had enough competence that they were able to forge though this lab. Frustration levels were generally lower.
- This unit provided an excellent opportunity to review the differences between qualitative and quantitative data. I did this in lecture between units 2 and 3, and it seems to be a good example of just-in-time teaching.
- I assigned the poster, but did not have the students print them. I had them present the poster on the screen, and this worked very well. It took a little time at the beginning of Unit 4, but was well worth it for the review of the material.
- Writing the reflective essay answers was difficult for many of my science students who had not encountered reflective assessment previously. I had them write and hand in their answer to "How has your understanding of the role of susceptibility mapping of any hazard changed?"
- We only used Puerto Rico sites on this exercise. I found it made more sense to focus on that one site, but did use Arizona as an example and a basis for comparison. Either the graduate instructional assistant or I would work through examples from the Arizona case studies so that the students could see it step-by-step. Then they would do the same operations with Puerto Rico data.
- I did change the assignment to skip the introduction and save the students some background reading and historical data specific to PR. Having the students make presentations again in groups was very motivating. The students were responsible for dividing up the tasks, and following the format of a hazard mitigation plan report that I provided.
- Tip: in the author list, have the students list their authorship responsibilities. Some journals and many agencies now require this for articles or reports. It really helped keep the group from just enabling the slackers.
The assessments followed the lab assignments very closely. I wanted to put some emphasis on how science help informs policy and resilient communities so I made the presentations worth the majority of the grade for the labs. I felt that this allowed some flexibility for the students to implement their own workflows and develop more of their own ideas in working with the data.
My original goal for introducing GIS was for students to develop quantitative decision-making skills. I found that the students attained proficiency of translating quantitative data into useful information as well as a deeper appreciation the intersection of science and policy. I found that the outcomes in integrating sciences and social science were surprisingly good.