Southeastern Section - 66th Annual Meeting - 2017

Paper No. 25-2
Presentation Time: 1:20 PM


HELLER, Matthew J., Department of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University, 395 South High Street, MSC 6903, Harrisonburg, VA 22807,

Student presentations provide an opportunity for peer-to-peer learning, but logistics can be challenging for a large introductory geology course. During the past five years, a methodology for small group presentations has been developed for a 100-student introductory geology course at James Madison University. Early in the semester, students are provided a list of 20 current and controversial environmental- or natural resource-related topics. Students are encouraged to select a topic that is of interest to them and to join one of two four-student groups established for that topic in the online learning management system for the course. At the following class, students are provided an opportunity to meet their group. Small groups are combined if needed and empty groups are discarded. Students are given the following questions to answer about their topic: What is the issue? Why is it important? Why is it controversial? Who are the stakeholders and what do they want? What do scientists think about this issue? What do you think will happen in the future? Students are given flexibility in presentation format, but are instructed that all presentations are limited to 10 minutes, with 2 minutes for questions. Research and preparation is completed outside of class and presentations are made during five hours of class time in the middle of the semester. Students are strongly encouraged to ask questions of each other. One-third of the grade is based on answering questions about other group’s presentations, which ensures good attendance. The remaining two-thirds of the grade is assigned based on the quality of the content, presentation, and presentation materials, and whether the group answered the assigned questions and finished on time. All students in a group receive the same grade, as long as they participated in the group. Student feedback for this assignment has been very positive and it builds on many concepts learned during the semester.