Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education

GEOL 212: Historical Geology is one of the Geology Department’s core introductory courses. As such, it is offered four times per year and is taken by every student in the department. The lecture section of the course is taught by a rotating group of Geology faculty and instructors and is regularly updated and adjusted to incorporate new science and student-centered pedagogy, but the laboratory section of the course has not been updated in over a decade and the science is severely outdated. We plan to redesign the laboratory section to incorporate updated science and methods and emphasize student-centered pedagogy.

In the current version of the laboratory section of this course, students conduct eight week-long activities and a final project. The existing course pack contains these activities, guidelines for the final project, and additional reference information. Ultimately, the topics of each lab activity will not shift significantly, but the new activities will be updated to include new science (as our understanding of Earth’s complex history is constantly evolving) and redesigned within a student-centered, constructivist framework. This redesign, based on a modern understanding of how students learn, will be modeled after the SCED 202: Energy and Matter in Earth Systems curriculum. Each activity will be divided into three major sections: A) initial ideas, B) experiments and explorations, and C) summarizing questions.

The existing laboratory course pack largely consists of hand-drawn illustrations and graphs, as well as poorly sized, difficult to read tables. There is no editable, digital copy of the course pack, so edits and changes are hard to make. Since I will be redesigning the laboratory section activities, we plan to recreate or build new figures in Adobe Illustrator and rebuild the course pack in Adobe InDesign so that Instructors can have a digital copy and future edits can be made easily.