San Francisco State University
Investigating Land, Sea and Air Interactions
GEOL/METR 309 features active, collaborative investigations of earth, ocean, and weather phenomena and issues in the context of the San Francisco Bay region, applying basic physical principles and taking an interdisciplinary perspective. Along the way we will attend explicitly to scientific problem-solving and communication skills, to cooperative learning skills, and to earth and space science subject matter and societal issues to which they relate.
Problem-Based Learning. We will organize much of the course around a learning strategy called Problem-Based Learning (PBL), which synthesizes the pedagogical strengths of cooperative learning and real-world problem-solving.We will assign you to permanent (semester-long) groups of three to five students, and your group or team will work together to analyze, research, and evaluate possible solutions to three real-world, open-ended geoscience problems with significant societal interest and impact.You will occasionally assess how well your group is working together and will devise ways to improve. We will facilitate both your problem-solving and cooperative learning efforts, but ultimately you and the members of your group must take responsibility for your own and each other's learning.
At times not devoted to formal cooperative problem-solving, you will often be working on other, smaller problems and activities, usually in informal groups formed for that purpose. Hence, over the course of the semester you will probably work with most other students in class at one time or another. These activities will be interspersed with short lectures, films, discussion, etc.
Pre-class, WWWeb preparatory exercises. Occasionally you will be assigned to complete a brief exercise on the WWWeb out of class, before a designated class meeting. These exercises are designed to help prepare you for the activities of particular class meetings.
Course WWWeb Home Page. The course will be administered via WWWeb-based course management software called Blackboard (http://online.sfsu.edu). This syllabus, WWWeb-based preparatory exercises, and other assignments and handouts will generally be posted there. Blackboard also provides small-group and whole-class discussion forums that will complement our in-class cooperative activities.
We expect a high level of professionalism from you in this class, including:
|Out-of-class, WWWeb-based exercises
(due prior to class meetings; 4-6 exercises total)
Collaborative problem investigation reports
|Lab Exercise (Plate Tectonics)||5%|
|Instructor and peer evaluations
(contributions to collaborations)
(Three total, each with individual part & group parts weighted 70%/30%)
|80-90%||B-, B, B+|
|70-80%||C-, C, C+|
|60-70%||D-, D, D+|
|below 60%||never mind|
If for some reason our assignments and exams seem to us too difficult, or if we evaluate them with unusual rigor, we reserve the right to adjust this scale downward, which would effectively raise the grade for some people.
The course schedule is available on-line, but because some aspects of GEOL/METR 309 are still under development, the schedule will be subject to regular adjustments in the face of reality. As a general guideline, expect some of the first several weeks of the semester to emphasize pre-assessments, small-group cooperative learning practice, and WWWeb research skills. Much of the rest of the semester will be structured around the three real-world problems, on earthquakes, coastal erosion, and landslides, with occasional additional attention devoted to assessment, use of the WWWeb, and cooperative learning skill development.