Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


SEWALL, Jacob, Department of Physical Sciences, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown, PA 19530,

Integration and linking of information in time and space transgressive problem solving is the essence of geological knowledge and is significantly more challenging for students to master than the simple acquisition of definitions or identifications. Unfortunately, opportunities to practice this type of geological knowledge are often limited and restricted to lab time. Students, however, are more frequently in class and, as frequent practice is often the key to success, extending problem solving and skills practice into the lecture hall can be very beneficial. Here I present an example suite of hands-on activities that replace a traditional, information-transfer lecture format with a format that provides tools and then asks students to apply them in the discovery of information. Historical Geology is a 24-seat course taught as the second of a two-course Introductory Geology series. The lecture is taught for two, 80-minute meetings and is complemented by a traditional, three-hour laboratory period where students learn and apply basic skills such as rock identification, biostratigraphy, and geologic map reading. The activities presented here take place in the stadium-seat lecture hall and transform the lecture periods from passive recording of static facts and figures to engaged problem solving practice that leads to epiphany. Activities are structured to consume one half of the available class time and involve student use of hand samples, maps, graphs and other sources of data. Students, working in pairs or small groups, use their data to discover earth history and, along the way, practice geological knowing. Activities are followed by a question and answer, step-by-step walk through of the problem solving process and are preceded by the wrap-up of the previous exercise and any necessary seed information (e.g. how to interpret graphs of δ 18O). While these activities are used in a course with a lab component, this approach could be equally, or even more, useful in a lecture-only course. Students frequently cite these in-class activities as the most useful, and enjoyable, aspect of the course, and, as the semester progresses, their growth in thinking “like a geologist” is reflected by their increasing enthusiasm for and ease in engaging in both the activities and the subsequent question and answer sessions.