Physical Geology

Joel Aquino, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Gainesville State College


This course, Physical Geology, is a college-level introductory course whose general aim is to provide an "overall" perspective about earth science. It is never meant to be comprehensive in scope but provides a conceptual understanding of the underlying physical and chemical concepts governing the earth's processes. Only minor emphasis will given to the numerous terms in earth science as this distracts the fundamental understanding of the underlying scientific principle.

Course Type: Intro Level:Physical Geology
Course Size:

Course Format:
Lecture and lab

Institution Type:
Two Year College

Course Context:

This is an introductory course (3 hrs credit)with no pre-requisites and does not serve as a prerequisite for other courses. Typically, >90% of the students who take the course are non-science and/or on-engineering majors and take the course to satisfy a general education requirement. The course has a required separate lab (1 hr credit)

Course Content:

Geology 1250 Physical Geology covers the broad topics of nature of science, minerals, rock types and associated formational processes, earthquakes, geologic time and dating principles, surface processes, geologic hazards, plate tectonics and earth's resources. There are 10 labs and one fieldtrip that emphasize on how geologists use the underlying physical and chemical concepts to understand earth's processes. At the same time, students are introduced to skills unique to earth scientists such as mineral/rock identification, mapping and interpretation, drilling and resource calculation.


The students are assessed based on the 6 levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. In order of increasing critical thinking skills, these levels are as follows - knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The first three lower levels are tested at the end of each chapter take home quiz which at the end of the semester will count as one test. Since I collect each chapter quiz at the end of the period, this actually encourages both outside and within classroom discussion. These lower levels are also tested on the required lab report particularly in the sections of statement of the problem/objectives, summary of literature review, methodology and data presentation (tables/graphs). On the other hand, the upper three taxonomic levels are tested through the next three combined essay and problem-solving exams that typically last 2-3 hrs. Each exam has 4 to 5 questions ( 3 easy, 1 medium and 1 hard) and conducted with open notes and strong lab correlation. These higher levels are also tested in the following sections of their lab reports - analysis, conclusion, evaluation of experimental weaknesses and suggestions for improvement. However, there is one level outside this taxonomic pyramid and that is creativity. Creativity is difficult to evaluate but given the chance, when a student demonstrates an extraordinary "outside the box" project or presentation or persuasive argument, a extra credit is awarded.


References and Notes: