University of Colorado Boulder

GEOL 1010: Introduction to Geology, Summer 2018

During the summer session 2018, I had the opportunity to teach Introduction to Geology to a class of 22 undergraduates.  I formatted the class to be mostly active-learning assignments that were student centered and focused on showing the students that geoscience relates to their everyday lives.  I used a variety of pedagogical methods to keep the class interesting and to allow for different learning preferences.  Some of the activities used real data that the students analyzed to learn a new concept.  Others were hands on activities like using salt dough to build an outcrop to help learn relative dating principles.

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Sometimes the activities were structured as modified jig-saws where the students started in small expert groups to learn content and then switched to collaborative groups that had an expert in each content area.  One example of a modified jig-saw was an activity used to introduce earthquake hazard and risk.  The students started in expert groups representing three different cities: San Francisco, California; Anchorage, Alaska; and Portland, Oregon.  The expert groups used maps of historic seismicity, ground shaking, landslide potential, liquefaction, and tsunami risk in conjunction with population density, infrastructure, and building code information to determine risk and hazard.  They then used demographic, economic, and livability data to assess if the city was worth living in regardless of the hazard.  Following their expert groups, the students moved into collaborative groups that had at least one expert for each city.  They discussed the three cities and determined which city has the highest risk and hazard and if that risk is outweighed by positive attributes.  They also determine what precautions could be taken to reduce the risk associated with earthquakes in their chosen city.