InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Coastal Processes, Hazards and Society > Section 1: Introduction to the Coastal Zone: Forms, Processes and Society > Module 3: Coastal Systems: Landscapes and Processes
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Module 3: Coastal Systems: Landscapes and Processes

Mark Kulp, University of New Orleans and Duncan Fitzgerald, Boston University

This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • 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 testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Dec 7, 2016

Summary

This module focuses on developing an understanding of the many different types of specific coastal environments that can be present within a coastal zone as well as the different types of processes that are active in these environments.

Learning Goals

The primary goal of Module 3: Coastal Systems: Landscapes and Processes is to explore regional and local factors that impact coastal morphology. Having completed this module students will be able to:

  • Recognize that there are discrete, unique coastal systems such as rocky coasts, coral coasts, deltas, barrier islands, and marshlands within regional-scale coastal zones;
  • Expand their understanding of coastal processes and how these processes help shape the coastal systems;
  • Appreciate that coastal systems evolve differently in response to fair-weather conditions or storm conditions;
  • Use elevation profile data to analyze the effects of a storm on a sandy shoreline, including sediment transport directions.

Context for Use

Overall, this one-week module is intended to be used on its own or as part of an online or blended general education or introductory-level course that would satisfy a science distribution requirement. The module would be appropriate for non-majors and undeclared students looking for a major. There are two formats: (1) Blended where the students meet at least once to perform the activities in teams; and (2) 100 percent online. As a general guideline, the delivery of content and assessment of learning goals/objectives have been designed to accommodate the logistics of large class sizes where students are expected to work approximately three hours per week covering lecture content with an additional six hours per week of additional reading and work on assessments. Note that some students will require more or less time to meet the goals and objectives of the module.

Description and Teaching Materials

Materials for students for this module are linked below. Teachers can find documentation of the activities at this location as well as rubrics for students. Rubrics for teachers are compiled on the Assessment page. Suggestions for teaching and a list of the assessments are found below. In the assessment for this module, students take real beach profile elevation data, embed it in an spreadsheet and construct 2-D beach profiles. The students are given data for three different transects, each of which was surveyed three different times before and after major storm events affected the beach. Students are required to use the plotted data to answer questions about sediment transport directions, both along shore and cross shore, before and after the storm impacts.

Teaching Notes and Tips

What works best for the module?

  • Students should be encouraged to explore the extra links and information provided in text and videos. Students who read all of the material and follow the extra, external links will develop the most complete understanding of concepts.
  • Students who carefully examine the many pictures provided within the text will develop the most comprehensive understanding of the different coastal sub-environments. Students should be informed to take some time and specifically explore the observable, morphological differences between, for example, sandy beaches and cobble beaches, or a barrier reef compared to a barrier island system.

What students found tough and how we adapted to that.

Students who did not thoroughly read the text, examine the images and look at the accompanying external links had the most problems with the module. These students were unable to relate concepts to one another and consequently had difficulties completing some of the assessments that sought to develop a comprehensive view of the controls on coastal environments. A greater emphasis was placed on examining these materials.

Reflections on Assignments

Formative Assessment: Beach Profiling Exercise
  • Students did not fully understand the partitioning and classification of a shore-normal elevation profile across a beach. A better, more clearly labeled transect was developed so that students could more easily see the division and distinctions of different parts of the beach profile as a function of elevation from the mean water line.
  • Most of the students were familiar with spreadsheets and easily completed the formative assessment using beach profile data. Some students were not as accustomed to spreadsheet work, and for this reason students should, during the orientation week, be told to begin familiarizing themselves with spreadsheets. A strong emphasis should be placed on examining spreadsheets in advance of attempting this exercise so that students understand spreadsheet cells, cell equations, and the development of plots from tabulated data.
  • Students should be asked to have some of their early calculations checked so that mistakes do not permeate through the exercise.

Assessment

Formative Assessments

Capstone Project - Stage 1

References and Resources

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »