Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM
CARBONATE SYSTEMS: A PROJECT-BASED UNDERGRADUATE UPPER DIVISION COURSE
Carbonate Systems is a new upper division course in Lake Superior State University Geology Department's recently completed, NSF sponsored, undergraduate curricular revision. It is designed to teach the basic concepts of invertebrate paleontology, carbonate sedimentary petrology, and stratigraphy, including depositional systems. Based on constructivist educational philosophy, this course integrates lecture and laboratory utilizing diverse active learning strategies that focus on real-life experiences and problems. Students engage in content-specific laboratory exercises in addition to working in teams of two or three on a semester-long project. This project requires students to interpret the biostratigraphy of the West Franklin Limestone Member of the Shelburn Formation (Pennsylvanian) of the southwestern part of the Illinois Basin, a currently active cooperative research project between LSSU and the Indiana Geological Survey. Project goals are specified and students are given sample locations, lithologic data associated with measured sections, and well logs. Students engage in biostratigraphic analysis using real conodont (microfossil) data in conjunction with thin sections and published material to determine local and regional correlations and to interpret depositional environments. Students use appropriate geologic software to create graphics such as pertinent maps and cross sections for weekly reports and presentations. Project activities sometimes require the entire class to work on one data set while at other times each team is initially responsible for a portion of the project with teams ultimately merging data to arrive at final conclusions. A final individual written paper and a group oral presentation are required. When engaged in project-based activities, students uniformly report heightened interest and motivation. Student's skills in data analysis, interpretation and presentation increase dramatically as do interpersonal skills related to group dynamics.