Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 2:20 PM


WOODS, Terri L., Geological Sciences, East Carolina University, E. 5th St., Greenville, NC 27858,

Funded by a UNC system initiative and extensively facilitated by experienced instructional designers, I developed and teach a kit-based, lecture/lab course in Physical Geology. Materials include: overview/objective; outline; readings; links to websites; study questions/answers, quizzes, labs, etc. Topics covered are Minerals, Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic Rocks, Weathering, Geologic Time, Mass Wasting, Intro to Topo Maps, Rivers, Groundwater, Glaciers & Climate Change, Coastlines, Crustal Deformation, Earthquakes, Plate Tectonics, and Energy and Mineral Resources (11 with lab). Examples from North Carolina are common. Students order a kit which includes: minerals/rocks, topo map, answer sheets, diagrams, and CD. Kits prepared by the Center for Inquiry-Based Learning, a non-profit ( that provides kits, PD, and kit-refurbishment for K-8 science classrooms in NC.

Comprehensively illustrated reading assignments (100’s of websites) introduce concepts and vocabulary. After doing study questions students take quizzes (~40% of grade) to test basic understanding and prepare them to pursue labs (~60% of grade), where their most significant learning occurs. Mineral and rock labs involve study of numbered specimens using standard tools. For labs involving topo maps students use 2 paper maps (Mt. Mitchell, Interlachen) plus dozens of high-resolution jpgs. For earthquake and hydrograph labs EXCEL files are provided.

To compensate for lack of a “lab instructor at their elbow”, students are permitted to resubmit labs. The most time-intensive aspect for the instructor (and most valuable for students) is commenting on labs so they can correct, learn, and resubmit. Feedback includes simply indicating errors, correcting maps, providing lists of common errors, guiding them in the right direction with a sentence or whole paragraphs, etc. By resubmitting grades improved an average of 13%. Major improvements were seen for coasts (48%), minerals (17%), and sedimentary and metamorphic rocks (17%).

Development of short videos to illustrate difficult concepts (e.g.; recognizing cleavage and basic rock textures, determining lat/long and relief, determining relative ages from a stratigraphic column) would significantly improve student understanding.