Initial Publication Date: July 9, 2017

Tiffany Rivera: National Parks Geology at Westminster College (UT)

About this Course

An introductory-level course for majors and non-majors. This course fulfills the College's Science and Math and Quantitative Emphasis requirements.
Two 110-minute lecture sessions per week

National Parks Geology syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 2.2MB Jun9 17)

Designed for students of all majors, National Parks Geology introduces fundamental geologic concepts through the lens of America's National Parks. My courses have gradually migrated from traditional lecture-based sessions, to integrated lecture and active learning periods. By immersing students in InTeGrate materials, they became more engaged with the content and enjoyed coming to class. The use of three different InTeGrate modules throughout the semester provided students with a variety of activities to challenge them with concepts, quantitative analysis, map reading and creating, and societal issues that affect the National Parks.

The InTeGrate units bridged the gap between fundamental geologic principles and human impact and influence on the natural world.

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrateMaterials

I did not need to modify the content of the modules. However, I included the InTeGrate materials in my pre-existing activities in order to keep the appearance of all course handouts and materials homogenous.

Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course

This is a 16-week course and InTeGrate units were implemented from the beginning to the end of the semester. In some weeks, two InTeGrate units were used. My course is built around rock type, beginning with parks with exquisite sedimentary rocks, followed by parks of igneous origin, and finally parks preserving metamorphic rocks and orogenic activity. I used the Humans' Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources almost exclusively within the sedimentary unit as we focused on the impact of mining on Utah's national parks. The Living on the Edge module was used within the parks of igneous origin unit, and Map Your Hazards was used as an end of the semester project to examine the local earthquake hazard along the Wasatch Front.


I used many of the assessments (formative and summative) provided with the units and modules on exams, as homework, or as graded in-class assignments. Students were generally receptive to the questions, particularly if they were in class when we completed the activity. When studying for exams, students would revisit their InTeGrate materials as they knew they could expect questions relating to the activities on the test.


I had hoped that my students would 1) understand the geologic processes involved to create the landscapes observed at America's National Parks; and 2) recognize the importance of geology within our society - from mining to natural hazards - and how personal decisions can have regional and global affects. I feel that my students achieved both of these goals. Some students were captivated by the impacts of mining on National Parks in Utah, and began to question their consumer habits. Other students were particularly interested in the earthquake hazard here in Salt Lake City, and began to address awareness and preparedness on campus. Overall, the InTeGrate materials were able to assist in bringing awareness of how geology and society are intertwined, and students gained a newfound appreciation for the role that geology plays in their daily lives.

Classroom Context