Paper No. 189-7
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
DEVELOPING RESEARCH BASED LABORATORIES FOR INTRODUCTORY PHYSICAL AND HISTORICAL GEOLOGY
In 2014, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute awarded the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) a 5-year grant to create research-based laboratories in introductory courses within the College of Science. The Department of Geological Sciences began adding one section of research-based laboratories in its physical and historical geology labs during the 2016-2017 academic school year, which has continued through the 2018-2019 school year. Geology majors are encouraged to take these labs, but non-majors are also welcomed. The labs are organized so students are introduced to general geology concepts during the first half of the lab. This includes rock identification, reading and making maps, introductory geophysics, and keeping a field notebook. These skills help the students conduct their research project. During the middle of the semester, both courses conduct shallow subsurface geophysical surveys (e.g., magnetics, conductivity, resistivity, seismic refraction) that focuses on soil properties and water table depth near the Rio Grande River about 15 km north of the UTEP campus. The students then spent the rest of the semester learning how to process the data they collected, make interpretations, and orally present their results to the rest of the class. Pre- and post- tests were taken each semester that asked the students to rank their confidence in conducting general research activities and their knowledge of geology/geophysics topics, as well as asking some open-ended questions about their experiences. Overall, the students enjoy the class because it is very hands on, they get to go on a field trip, they learn about the geology of their home, El Paso, and the research allows them to see geology from a different perspective.