GRADUATE STUDENT GUIDED PHYSICAL GEOLOGY LABORATORY DESIGN AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT KNOXVILLE
The laboratory exercises are based on emphasizing hands-on, student-driven learning, utilizing both digital and tactile exercises. Key materials introduced into the newly designed labs include the use of Chromebooks for Google Earth and Sheets for exercises to examine real-world localities and to perform simple computations and plotting; LEGO® toys to represent multiple geological concepts, from conceptualizing cleavage planes of minerals to characterizing topographic maps; ant farms to represent groundwater flow and karst development; and aquariums to emphasize the effects climate change has on the environment. One example of the new lab objectives is acclimating students to using the Chromebooks and Sheets by focusing on unit conversions, and measuring elevation at a location on Google Earth where there is historic data to determine rates of change and make predictions about future elevations. Incorporating these materials provides increased interaction with geologic concepts to improve understanding, retention, and connectivity of themes and gives graduate students real experience in designing effective course materials.