Approved by Faculty Senate
University Studies Course Approval
Department or Program:Geoscience
Course Title:Dynamic Earth
An introduction to geologic principles and the processes shaping planet Earth. Composition and distribution of earth materials; examination of internal processes and their relationship to the distribution of continents over time; surficial processes and environmental problems. Lecture and laboratory. Offered each semester.
This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2 ___X__.
This is a new course proposal _____. (If this is a new course proposal, the WSU Curriculum Approval Form must also be completed as in the process prescribed by WSU Regulation 3-4.)
Department Contact Person for this course: Dr. Cathy Summa
The proposed course is designed to satisfy the requirements in (select one area only):
A. Basic Skills: (October 4, 2000)
______ 1. College Reading and Writing
______ 2. Oral Communication
______ 3. Mathematics
______ 4. Physical Development and Wellness
______ 1. Humanities
___X__ 2. Natural Science
______ 3. Social Science
______ 4. Fine & Performing Arts
C. Unity and Diversity: (January 17, 2001)
______ 1. Critical Analysis
______ 2. Science and Social Policy
______ 3. a. Global Perspectives
______ b. Multicultural Perspectives
______ 4. a. Contemporary Citizenship
______ b. Democratic Institutions
______ 1. Writing
______ 2. Oral
______ 3. a. Mathematics/ Statistics
______ b. Critical Analysis
Department Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved____ Date ______
Chairperson Signature_______________________ Date ______
Dean's Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved ____* Date:______
Dean's Signature_______________________ Date______
*In the case of a Dean's recommendation to disapprove a proposal a written rationale for the recommendation to disapprove shall be provided to USS
USS Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved____ Date ______
University Studies Director's Signature_______________________ Date ______
A2C2 Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved_____ Date ______
A2C2 Chairperson Signature_______________________ Date ______
Faculty Senate Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved____ Date ______
FA President's Signature_______________________ Date ______
Academic Vice President's Recommendation: Approved_____ Disapproved____ Date ______
VP's Signature_______________________ Date ______
President's Decision: Approved_____ Disapproved____ Date ______
President's Signature_______________________ Date ______
The purpose of the Natural Science requirement in the University Studies program is to provide students with the tools to understand and be able to apply the methods by which scientific inquiry increases our understanding of the natural world.
GEOS 120 is presently taught in large introductory general-education lecture and laboratory sections (offered for 4 credits). In the scheme of the new USP, the format will not likely change, but it nonetheless addresses the major themes and outcomes of the Natural Science category. Because this course is taught by every faculty member in the department on a rotating basis, the details of the course and the order in which topics are covered may change from term to term but the following represents department consensus on content and pedagogical methods.
These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...
Students are given ample opportunity to understand how scientists approach and solve problems relevant to geology. They are taught the unique methods employed in interpreting and solving geologic problems. Theories fundamental to geology are developed in a historical context that illustrates both the way ideas have developed over time and how technological innovations have changed the types of data available to geologists. In the process, students learn about multiple hypotheses put forth by different scientists to explain the same set of observations. In this way, they are encouraged to view science not as a static body of facts but as an investigative method for understanding the natural world.
Students have the opportunity to apply basic geologic methods to solving some problems in the lecture section, and laboratory time is fully devoted to this process. In lecture, problem-solving activities range from short, in-class questions to more complex, often graphical problems presented for discussion. Laboratory exercises are longer and more complex and may involve integration of a series of concepts and methods learned in lecture. On exams and lab tests, students are asked to solve problems similar to those they have encountered previously. The problems are necessarily simplified when compared to those that face practicing geologists today because this is an introductory general-education course with no prerequisites (particularly in mathematics and physics). Given the level of the course, however, they are realistic problems that raise students awareness of issues relevant to the discipline.
Students learn to use inductive reasoning in both the lecture and laboratory setting, but mathematics are employed primarily in the lab. In lecture, problems are presented that require interpretation of various types of information about the Earth according to basic principles of geology. One example is the analysis of a cross-section through complexly layered rocks to determine the order in which the different rock layers formed and the sequence of events which led to their current orientation. In the laboratory, inductive reasoning is used in exercises such as the identification of minerals and rocks and the interpretation of geologic and topographic maps. Mathematics is frequently employed as a tool to aid in the solution of geologic problems in the lab. For example, students use proportionalities and ratios, calculate gradients, measure the offset in earthquake wave arrival times, and determine earthquake location by graphical methods.
Although the lecture is delivered to a large group, students engage daily in short, collaborative problem-solving activities. Usually this is accomplished via formative assessment activities associated with each lecture topic such as the think-pair-share technique. In the laboratory, many exercises are designed as collaborative activities with students working in teams of two or four people. Independent learning is ensured by in-class lecture and laboratory exams.
The current textbook comes packaged with a CD-ROM that illustrates to students some of the fundamentals of physical geology. Students are encouraged to use this resource to aid their studying and to access the course website that is maintained to provide an updated daily schedule, exam review sheets, and interesting links related to course material. As more students obtain laptops, the department is developing a plan to more fully incorporate technology into the curriculum as a whole and into this course in particular. Laboratory exercises in development involve students accessing live-time and historical geologic data on earthquakes, volcanoes, and rivers for use during and after the lab session.
Through the problem-solving exercises described in parts b and c above, students critically evaluate scientific information. Problems posed in class and laboratory and on exams often require students to interpret geologic information and determine the validity of different hypotheses put forth by scientists or by the students themselves to explain observations.
Students bring many misconceptions about the Earth to this introductory geology class. These misconceptions are addressed by querying students about their current understanding of the concept. New information is then presented, and students are encouraged to actively participate in reasoning their way to a correct understanding. Exams test retention of these ideas.
Courses that satisfy the laboratory requirement in the Natural Sciences will additionally provide students the opportunity to practice scientific inquiry through hands-on investigations and to analyze and report the results of those investigations.
Because all students in the lecture section of the course also take the laboratory, full use is made of lab time to allow students to actively engage in solving geologic problems through hands-on activities and exercises. Lecture and lab topics are closely coordinated so that they reinforce one another. Examples of investigative exercises include the observation, testing, and identification of mineral and rock specimens, the construction and interpretation of geologic and topographic maps to gain understanding of geologic processes such as plate tectonics, and experimentation with a model aquifer to learn about groundwater flow. During each lab, students record their observations, analyzing their findings, and turn in their written results.
GEOS 120: Dynamic Earth
About the Course
This class is an introduction to the way the Earth works. Through the term, we will investigate what the Earth is made of and how natural processes change both the face and interior of the Earth over time. Major ideas that govern the modern science of geology will be applied to solve basic geologic problems.
This course additionally qualifies as a University Studies course satisfying the outcomes of the Natural Science Category. If you successfully complete the course requirements, you will earn 4 credits toward completion of the Natural Science category of the University Studies Program, including the laboratory requirement.
University Studies Outcomes
These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...
a. understand how scientists approach and solve problems in the natural sciences;
b. apply those methods to solve problems that arise in the natural sciences;
c. use inductive reasoning, mathematics, or statistics to solve problems in natural science;
d. engage in independent and collaborative learning;
e. identify, find, and use the tools of information science as it relates to natural science;
f. critically evaluate both source and content of scientific information; and
g. recognize and correct scientific misconceptions.
Course information, lecture and lab schedules, review sheets for exams, and interesting links related to geology are posted at: http://course1.winona.edu/rambers/dynamic/
Monroe, J. S. and Wicander, R. (1998) Physical Geology. Wadsworth Publishing Co., 646 pp. and CD-ROM.
Prerequisites: This course is designed to stimulate your thinking (outcomes a, b, c, f, g), but there are no prerequisite courses. If you can balance your checkbook, you can do all the math that will be required (outcome c). I will expect you to understand and apply fundamental concepts (outcomes a, b, c, e, f, g), rather than to simply memorize information, on exams. You should strive to achieve as complete and sound a scientific interpretation as possible by trying to integrate information across discrete chapters of the text.
Study Groups: Because scientific understanding does not usually progress in a vacuumit is through discussions and arguments with colleagues that most advances stemI encourage you to work in groups and to discuss your ideas and to work through confusing concepts with your classmates. One of the best ways to study and understand and learn is to form a small study groupquiz one another. Make up questions that you think Id ask on the exam, and be certain you can answer them. If you can accurately explain a concept to your peers, then you can feel comfortable that you understand it. If youre confused in doing this, youre likely to be confused about the material. (outcome d)
Attendance: Attending class is essential for success in this course. Each absence means that you missed out on an important learning opportunity, and you are responsible for knowing what is covered and in class regardless of whether or not you are present. You cannot simply read the text and expect to get a good grade.
Labs: Lab attendance is required. No unexcused absences are permitted in laboratory without penalty. For each unexcused laboratory absence, your final grade will be reduced by 2%. Excused absences must by approved by the lab instructor prior to the session missed or accompanied by a note from the health center or another physician. Work missed during an absence must be made up because all laboratory exercises must be completed to pass the course.
Exams: Three lab tests, two in-class exams, and one comprehensive final will be given. Completion of all lecture and laboratory examinations is required in order to pass the course.
Unless I inform you otherwise at some point during the term, final grades will be assigned based on the following scale: A = 90-100%, B = 80-89%, C = 70-79%, D = 60-69%, F = <60%.
The main reason to go to college is to learn (at least I think so). Because no one can learn for you, I expect you to do your own work. I will not tolerate dishonest behavior and will take appropriate measures to punish anyone caught cheating. At a minimum, all parties involved will receive a zero for the test or assignment on which cheating occurred. For more information, read WSU's policy on academic integrity found in the class schedule and on the web.
If you have a physical or cognitive disability, please come talk to me as soon as possible so that we can discuss how best to accommodate your needs.
Tentative Daily Schedule