2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM


SERPA, Laura and PAVLIS, Terry L., Geology and Geophysics, Univ New Orleans, 2000 Lakeshore Dr, New Orleans, LA 70148-0001, lserpa@uno.edu

Four UNO faculty members, Drs. Craig, Rafalska, Pavlis, and Serpa, attended an IDIG workshop in 1996. Our primary goals were to interest non-majors in geology and to revise how we taught our courses. To achieve these goals, we created a new class, The Geology of New Orleans, which combined lab and lecture material in a ‘hands-on’ class that met for 2.5 hours a day, twice a week, in a lab setting. This contrasted with the usual beginning geology course, Physical Geology, which met for 3 hours of lecture (1 hour each of 3 days) and 2 hours of lab each week. The material covered was also distinctly different from our usual freshmen Physical Geology class. In particular, the geology of New Orleans does not include much discussion of igneous and metamorphic rocks or tectonic processes. Those topics were introduced briefly in a general discussion of the plate tectonic setting and processes that led to the formation of the Gulf of Mexico but most of the class focused on sedimentary rocks and processes. This narrow coverage was of some concern to all of us because we planned to use this class as a substitute for our Physical Geology course for students who chose to take more advanced geology classes.

Dr. William Craig was the lead instructor for the class and he was assisted by the other 3 workshop participants and later by new faculty with specialties in coastal processes. The class was taught continuously for 5 years and has not been offered recently because none of us feel we can do as well as Bill Craig did with the class. It typically had an enrollment of approximately 25 students, compared to the 500-800 students who enroll in the Physical Geology courses each semester. The small enrollment reflects the fact that we do not require the lab class with our Physical Geology class and the difficulty of scheduling the large time blocks twice a week. Despite the modest number of students, we got several majors each semester from the class and even the students who did not become majors usually chose to take additional geology classes. We are now considering teaching the class again as part of a new effort to recruit majors into geology and to generate more interest in the local geology. One definite outcome from this workshop is that we can no longer stand in front of a class and just lecture. We have incorporated most of the things we learned from IDIG into our teaching styles and it seems to be working well.