2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 304-10
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM


GILLEY, Brett H., Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, Room 2020, Earth Sciences Building, 2207 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada, SCOATES, James S., Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research, 2020, Earth Sciences Building, 2207 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T-1Z4, Canada and HICKEY, Kenneth A., Mineral Deposit Research Unit, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4

From 2010 to 2013, we optimized a 300-level Mineral Deposits class at the University of British Columbia (UBC) as part of the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative, a 7-year project to improve teaching in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences. The goal of the course is to provide students with the basic scientific framework for evaluating the origin and distribution of mineral deposits on planet Earth. Mineral deposits is not required in the undergraduate geology curriculum at UBC, but maintains strong enrolments (40-50 students/year) due to its importance in the career path of students planning to work in mineral exploration and for professional registration. During the course transformation, we worked on all aspects of the course. We rewrote learning outcomes at the course level and developed lecture-level learning goals for each individual class and lab. New rock suites were collected, labs were rewritten with a focus on hand-sample identification and genetic relationships between ores and host rocks, tested with students, and then optimized in subsequent years. Midterm and final exams were modified to focus on the learning goals and to streamline marking. A group-based poster project was developed for in-depth analysis of specific deposits and presentations made in 60-minute “poster forums” involving the active participation of 20-25 students at once. We also developed a variety of activities from short 1-2 minute “think-pair-share” activities, longer 5-20 minutes activities such as worksheets or map analysis, and full-class “framework” activities to connect to the foundation concepts in the course (e.g., source-transport-trap, deposits in space and time). In this contribution, we outline how these changes were completed, instructor and student attitudes about the changes, the (slow) pace of change, effects of workloads on professors and students, examples of activities, and student achievement. Students rate the workload as much higher than other courses taken concurrently, however, critically, they also value the work. Their enthusiasm for the course is rated much higher than almost all others in the department and makes the efforts put into course transformation very worthwhile.