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Geoscience Curriculum Model: An Integrated, Project-Centered Approach

Geology (42) We have implemented and adapted modern constructivist teaching/learning theories and previously developed alternative teaching strategies and activities (e.g., Tewksbury, B.J., ed., 1997, Innovative and Effective Teaching in the Geosciences, National Association of Geoscience Teachers) in designing and delivering a new, non-traditional undergraduate geoscience curriculum that integrates geoscience sub-disciplines. The results of a nationwide questionnaire (Brown and Kelso, in progress) distributed among geology faculty identified core concepts for a comprehensive, quality, undergraduate geology program. Core concepts focused on specific geologic problems in a variety of geologic settings has generated an applied model for students simulating practices by researchers, exploration geologists, and other geology professionals.<br/>Instruction throughout the program progressively integrates increasingly more complex projects and active learning strategies. Students develop basic skills and concepts in lower division physical and historical geology courses, such as clastic classification, identification and description of Quaternary units in field exposures, and construction of maps and cross sections. Students expand their studies in the upper division classes by planning EM and resistivity geophysical studies, gathering and interpreting this geophysical data, and examining water well logs to determine the potential contamination of a local project area's drinking water supply from waste in a quarry site and from farming practices. Upper division courses feature student teams working together to solve a series of progressively more complex real-world problems, such as groundwater flow and contamination and mineral and hydrocarbon resource exploration, that are drawn from a variety of classic geologic settings including the Canadian Shield, Michigan Basin, Black Hills, and Mid-Continent. A lower and upper division field experience, and significant field components in lower division physical, historical, and structural geology courses and upper division integrated courses, has provided students with the opportunity to solve actual geologic problems. Our integrated curriculum emphasizes use of technology and computers by incorporating their use in all courses. Implementation of GeoGraphix mapping software begins in physical geology, with more sophisticated usage progressing throughout the curriculum. Students will use the geophysical and laboratory equipment made available by this CCLI - Adaptation and Implementation grant in all aspects of geologic studies from project design, to data collection, data analysis and interpretation, and formal project presentation. Science assessment strategies, including concept mapping, conceptual diagnostic tests, and performance assessment were adapted to evaluate our curriculum and courses (e.g., see NSF sponsored National Institute for Science Education web page

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The Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Research Inventory is an
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Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region.