2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 186-9
Presentation Time: 10:25 AM


MACLEAN, John S., Geology, Southern Utah University, SC 309, 351 West University Boulevard, Cedar City, UT 84720, johnmaclean@suu.edu

During fall 2014, students in Southern Utah University’s (SUU) upper-level Structural Geology course worked together in Hillsdale Canyon near Bryce Canyon National Park and in the classroom to collect structural geology field data, analyze and interpret the data, and write a scientific article. The field area lies in the footwall of the Rubys Inn thrust fault, a south-directed Miocene fault commonly attributed to the gravitational collapse of the Marysvale volcanic field. Contraction was accommodated by several structures easily accessible in sedimentary outcrops, including a mountain-scale asymmetric syncline, cataclastic deformation due to flexural slip between beds, strained fossils of petrified wood deposited in the hinge of the fold, and conjugate sets of deformation bands present in porous sandstone and conglomerate lenses. The variety of structures allowed students to perform geometric, kinematic, and dynamic analyses together during the project.

After much effort and several drafts, the students submitted the article for publication in a peer-reviewed undergraduate journal called The Compass: Earth Science Journal of Sigma Gamma Epsilon. This project integrated several high-impact educational practices designated by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, including writing-intensive courses, collaborative assignments and projects, and undergraduate research. The project also addressed several of SUU’s Essential Learning Outcomes, including communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and inquiry and analysis, which were assessed formally and informally throughout the semester. Projects such as this enable students to connect classroom concepts to hands-on experiences and real-world problems while balancing content coverage with practical and intellectual skills. In addition to the inherent educational benefits, participants were able to include a peer-reviewed publication on their graduate school and employment applications. This presentation will provide a summary of the students’ project and will describe the educational and professional benefits of integrating undergraduate research with course content.