INTEGRATION OF WRITING IN LARGE INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY CLASSES: LANDSLIDES AND EARTHQUAKES AND VOLCANOES! OH MY!
Several types of assignments have been designed and adapted for three different introductory level classes: Volcanoes and Civilization, Earthquakes and Volcanoes, and Physical Geology. Short, weekly news journals encourage students to be aware of worldwide geological events as well as recognize appropriate sources of scientific information and practice writing concise summaries. Longer synthesis papers at the end of the semester focus on either the geology of a chosen National Park or of Hollywood’s portrayal of a geologic event. The synthesis papers encourage use of a variety of scientific sources, application of knowledge learned over the course of the semester, and distinguishing between “data” and “interpretations.” Though improvements in the students’ writing abilities is observable over the course of the semester, the challenges associated with editing, grading, and choosing appropriate topics can not be understated.