Module 3: Coastal Systems: Landscapes and Processes
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
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 AssignmentsFormative 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.
- Formative Assessment: Coastal Evolution
- Formative Assessment: Beach Profiling Exercise — Students observe how the profile of a beach has changed over time and explore the causes of that change.
Capstone Project - Stage 1