STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY TAUGHT BY ACTIVE LEARNING MAP/CROSS-SECTION EXERCISES AND BY A FIELD PROJECT
For the active learning exercises in the course, students need some understanding of a concept in order to answer questions about a map/cross-section. I try to give them a brief introduction to the concept involved using a handout and discussing it for a few minutes. Then I bring out the map/cross-section and a set of questions that I have developed. The questions concern the concept just introduced, plus constant reference to the basic concepts introduced early in the course such as the geologic time scale, rule of Vs, etc. These question sets are commonly not finished during the period and I usually do not allot any more class time for finishing these exercises, but ask for questions on them during each successive meeting until due, usually in one week. Most are collected and scored. In hour exams, done quarterly, different maps/cross-sections are used for assessment of concepts involved.
The field project is done over the last five labs in the course. Within one mile of our campus we have a Pennsylvanian anticlinal structure with dips up to 55 degrees, overlain by horizontal sedimentary rocks, i.e., an angular unconformity. The students check out a Brunton and a map board and during the laboratory periods are shown how to collect data, record it in a notebook, and plot it on a map. About a square mile of this terrane is mapped and the students are required to turn in a geologic map, a cross-section and a short report. Feedback from student evaluations and from returning alumni indicates that this course is considered one of the most valuable in their undergraduate career, mainly because the active learning style allowed them to assimilate material learned in many other undergraduate courses.