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 Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
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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 materials are free 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.
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Assessment of Module Goals

This module contains formative assessments embedded in the modules themselves. Below, we provide a summative assessment designed to evaluate student learning in the module as a whole. This assessment is designed as a test question, to be included as part of a midterm or final exam. It addresses both the process of recognizing potential risks due to geological hazards (module goal 1) and the time scales associated with hazard assessment (module goal 2).

Module Summative Assessment

1. The data below are from a volcano monitored remotely. Satellites recorded an ash plume from the eruption, but you, as a scientist, need to more precisely pinpoint the eruption.

1a. Describe what the graphs above tell you about the volcano's activity during this time period. Use the data to describe when the eruption occurred (month/year) and explain how you know this.

1b. List at least one other type of data that you would like to see to better interpret the activity and how you expect that data would change during this time period.

1c. The USGS monitors remote volcanoes, such as those on the Aleutian Islands in Alaska—an area with a very small population. Why might this be a useful thing to do? Describe two costs and two benefits to society associated with monitoring a remote volcano like this one.

2. Recall the risk equation: Risk = Hazard Probability x Vulnerability x Value.

2a. What are two specific characteristics of a building or site that would increase the seismic risk to that building? Explain your answer.

2b. Describe two mitigation strategies that would decrease the seismic risk to the building you described above. Explain your answer.

Rubric

Each requirement of this question should be scored on a numerical scale, with 0 representing an answer that does not meet standards and the full score an answer that indicates mastery. Question 1 is worth 7 points, and question 2 is worth 4 points.

Module Summative Assessment

Below are three numbered situations in which planning agencies and emergency managers in plate boundary environments would need geological monitoring or hazard assessment data. Choose one situation. For that situation, use your experience with geological hazards in this course to explain, as specifically as possible:

  • the type(s) of geologic information that a geologist would need to assess potential geological hazards, vulnerability, and activity
  • how a geologist might use the data in the context of risk assessment
  • the time scales over which the information would be useful (e.g. a short-term alert within days/weeks, a long-term forecast over several decades, etc.)
  • ways in which planners could mitigate the risks of the specific hazards to people and property in their regions
  1. A county planning commission is deciding whether to allow high-rise construction permits in a transform plate boundary environment.
  2. An army base, built on the flank of a newly active volcano at a convergent plate boundary, is deciding whether to evacuate.
  3. An insurance agency is evaluating property insurance rates in a housing development near a divergent plate boundary volcano that has had activity within the last 50 years, but is not currently monitored.

Rubric

Each requirement of this question should be scored on a numerical scale of 0-3, with 0 representing an answer that does not meet standards and a 3 an answer that indicates mastery. The question is therefore worth 9 points.


Unit Assessments

Unit 1 Summative Assessment

This question is appropriate as either a written assignment or exam question.

Most of California's population is concentrated in large cities near the plate boundary. The statewide probability map suggests that overall, there is a 99% chance of a damaging M=(6.7 or greater) earthquake occurring somewhere in the state in the next 30 years. Should resources for earthquake preparedness be spread evenly across the state? Explain your reasoning using a set of 2-3 sentences or bullet points, supported with information from this unit.

Unit 2 Summative Assessment

We recommend using this as a writing assignment, administered as homework.

Based on your risk assessment of the five schools in this activity, make the case for funding upgrades to buildings at two schools. Prepare a set of bullet points to be presented to the City of San Francisco that uses data from your analysis to support your recommendations. If additional measures are necessary to mitigate risk at other schools, outline them and support them as well.

Unit 3 Summative Assessment

Summative assessment can be completed formally by collecting tables 1 and 2 (keys to tables 1 and 2 are in

) or by asking students to write responses to discussion items in Part 5 (reproduced below), and can be graded using this guide (Acrobat (PDF) 84kB Aug21 14) or according to instructor's preference.

What are some reasons that data useful for eruption monitoring and prediction at divergent plate boundaries might not be available in all circumstances?

Unit 4 Summative Assessment

Question 1 is intended for use as a test question, and question 2 is intended as a homework question. However, both could alternatively be incorporated into a more extensive homework assignment, or could even be used as formative assessment as part of an in-class activity in a longer (e.g. 75-minute) class period.

1. In order to warn citizens and take effective action to save lives and property, emergency management officials need at least a few days of advance warning before a natural disaster such as a volcanic eruption occurs. Based on your experience monitoring Eyjafjallajokull, describe the monitoring data you would need, and the criteria you would you use with those data to decide when to issue a warning of a volcanic eruption. How would you differentiate the earliest indications that a volcano is waking up from the indications of an eruption?


2. Nyiragongo is a volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo that sits in the East African Rift Valley, a divergent plate boundary. Its eruption of 2002 killed about 150 people, destroyed 15% of the city of Goma, and left 120,000 people homeless. View the 8-minute video from Television for Education – Asia Pacific found at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZLSvO6vJZ0#t=40

List at least four factors that prevented effective monitoring at Nyiragongo. Describe how each factor contributed to the negative consequences of this eruption.


Units 5 and 6 Summative Assessment

As a summative assessment for this activity, students write a bulleted report to the State of Washington's Emergency Management Division. The report advises the officials of the outcomes of the eruption, what areas should be prioritized for disaster relief assistance, and how a similar disaster in the future can be mitigated through strategic planning. See

. An is also posted.



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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 »