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

Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 4:15 PM


SROGI, LeeAnn, Department of Geology/Astronomy, West Chester Univ, 720 S Church St, West Chester, PA 19383-0001, esrogi@wcupa.edu

John Reid inspired me to believe that ALL students can engage in research. Providing authentic research opportunities – in which students conduct research on real questions and uncover new knowledge – has some challenges in a regional comprehensive university environment. Most students work and do not have time out of class for research; relatively few students go to graduate school and < 1% will pursue petrology. It is particularly important that students who will become secondary-school teachers (about half of our majors) discover their capabilities for research and develop opportunities for projects with their students. I make research projects the core focus of an upper-level igneous-metamorphic petrology course. Finding topics at the right level that are meaningful to the students can be difficult. By collaborating with PA Survey geologists, my students are engaged and we provide useful petrologic data and analysis to support geologic mapping. We have a new SEM with Oxford EDS for mineral analyses at WCU. Students prepare whole-rock samples for XRF analysis at Franklin & Marshall College, about an hour’s drive away, or send samples to a commercial lab.

I will report on and provide examples of student work and reflection, primarily from the fall 2004 semester. Students learn igneous petrology by investigating the emplacement and crystallization of Mesozoic diabase exposed in working quarries, where they also learn practical applications of petrology to the aggregate industry. For metamorphic petrology, students investigate bulk compositions, textures, and mineral compositions of metapelites to evaluate the field interpretation that they are two separate units, bounded by a shear zone. Appropriate techniques for documenting and sampling igneous and metamorphic rocks are reinforced on each field trip. Weekly inquiry-based activities and lecture-discussion support student learning as they develop a research proposal, collect and analyze data, and prepare a summary report. With this approach to petrology, content depth is emphasized over content breadth. Building skills in scientific reasoning and qualitative and quantitative research methods will benefit future professional geologists and teachers, as well as those students who pursue a research career.