ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY LABORATORY: A MODEL FOR A LIBERAL STUDIES COURSE GROUNDED IN A REGIONAL FIELD SETTING
The tools employed include an emphasis upon the local and regional landscape through an evolving, customized lab manual. Key to realizing the objectives is a series of field trips. On campus excursions examine changing land-use, runoff and erosion, slope instability, resource consumption, and waste disposal. Field trips in the vicinity of campus investigate floodplains, terraces, a gauging station, and acid mine drainage and its remediation. Regional field trips explore the Drake Well, coastal geology and ecology of Presque Isle, and landslides in Pittsburgh. Topographic maps are applied to most of these studies.
Success of the curriculum is demonstrated by student evaluations, popularity, and endorsement by CETP-PA of the lecture as constructivist. Students report tangibility, satisfaction with diverse assessment mechanisms, comfort with seeking assistance, and overall, a strongly favorable experience with natural science courses that were often approached reluctantly and with apprehension.