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

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


NOLD, John L., Department of Earth Science, Central Missouri State Univ, 107 WCM Science Building, Warrensburg, MO 64093, jln8853@cmsu2.cmsu.edu

At Central MO State U., Structural Geology is a 3000 level course taken by third year students as part of their Bachelor’s degree. I have taught the course for 29 years and it has evolved into an active learning/field project course with almost no traditional lecturing. The semester course is more-or-less divided into four parts. The first quarter concerns basic concepts such as the geologic time scale, map scales, vertical exaggeration, rule of V’s, width of outcrop, strike and dip, use of trigonometry, and tops from primary sedimentary structures. In the second and third quarters, map and cross-section exercises emphasize folding and faulting, respectively. The fourth quarter is mostly consumed by the 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 V’s, 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.