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

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


KELSO, Paul R., Dept. of Geology and Physics, Lake Superior State Univ, 650 W. Easterday Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783 and BROWN, Lewis M., Department of Geology and Physics, Lake Superior State Univ, Sault Ste Marie, MI 49783, pkelso@LSSU.edu

Lake Superior State University has chosen to strengthen student learning and its geoscience programs by redesigning the undergraduate curriculum and integrating the geoscience sub-disciplines through a series of project-centered courses. Core geologic concepts were identified through a national survey of geoscience faculty in partnership with the American Geological Institute. Students address real-world problems while learning key geoscience concepts. Projects are chosen so core concepts are revisited at increasingly sophisticated levels as students progress through the curriculum. Therefore, students are required to apply previous knowledge and new concepts to solve progressively more complex geologic problems. Our new curriculum includes an integrated yearlong physical and historical geology sequence at the freshman level and a semester each of structure/tectonics and mineralogy/petrology at the sophomore level that culminates with a three week summer field geology course. The upper division emphasizes integrated subdisciplinary content investigated in the context of actual questions and problems in courses such as geoenvironmental systems, clastic systems, tectonic systems, geophysical systems, geochemical systems, carbonate systems, hydrogeological systems, advanced field geology, and seminar courses.

Individual projects are designed as student centered activities that include various types of real world geologic problems and the opportunity to enhance student’s written and oral communication skills. Each course incorporates a variety of pedagogical techniques to enhance student learning with an emphasis on active learning strategies such as peer teaching, jigsaw activities, presentations, debates and discussions, investigation orientated laboratory activities, and research experiences. Many courses have substantial field components allowing students to investigate Lake Superior State University’s diverse geological setting near outcrops of the Michigan Basin and the Canadian Shield, near the world’s largest freshwater lake, on a major river, in a glaciated terrain. While in the field students collect data and samples, make observations and then combine their information with laboratory analysis and literature research to best address the problems presented.