Geography 15
Physical Geography

InstructorJeff Tolhurst, Ph.D.
OfficeSugar Pine 119
Office Hours: MW
4:30-6:00 pm in Fir 1; MW 1:00-2:00 pm in Sugar Pine 119
or by appointment
Phone: (209) 588-5235 office (+ msg); (209) 588-5104 (fax)
Emailtolhurstj@yosemite.edu

Course Credit: 3 semester hours
Prerequisites: None
Day and Time: TuTh 11:20 am 12:45 pm
Room: SUG 114
Text: Geosystems: An Introduction to Physical Geography, by Christopherson and Birkeland (Older versions = OK)


Calendar


Web Links


The Importance of Earth Science Education

Earth Science plays a unique and essential role in today's rapidly changing world. It is an integrated study of the Earth's history, composition and structure, its atmosphere and oceans, and its environment in space. A knowledge of Earth Science is important because most human activities are related to interaction with the planet Earth.

Basic knowledge about the Earth, then, is the key to development of an informed citizenry. The reasons for teaching Earth Science are numerous: 1) it offers experience in a diverse range of interrelated scientific disciplines; 2) it is closely related to your natural surroundings; and 3) it offers you subject matter which has direct application to your lives and the world around you. You need only step outdoors to observe and find relevance in concepts learned in the Earth Science classroom. Because it offers many opportunities to collect data, hypothesize, experiment, and draw conclusions, both within school and outside environments, Earth Science is a laboratory and activity oriented course. Earth Science integrates many principles of both physical and life sciences. It incorporates and presents concepts often not emphasized in other parts of the science curriculum, such as geologic time and the vastness of space.

The teaching of Earth Science allows all students to have a better science background with pertinent information about your surroundings. Daily, society is faced with environmental and economic concerns such as deforestation, mining issues, acid rain, water supply, the greenhouse effect, and waste disposal. Civilization is absolutely dependent upon utilization of Earth's energy, mineral, and human resources. Awareness of natural phenomena such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, tornadoes, and hurricanes also requires a knowledge of Earth Science.

Students who study Earth Science are better prepared to discuss issues and make informed, responsible decisions. The interdisciplinary curriculum of Earth Science develops and builds on skills learned in earlier courses and closely relates to your everyday experiences. It develops attitudes and problem-solving skills that will be useful throughout life. If tomorrow's adults are to make wise decisions about Earth and environmental issues, it is vital that today's students be given the opportunity to study Earth Science at all levels as an integral part of their school experience. (This statement is modified from the National Earth Science Teachers Association, September 13, 1988).


Course Expectations: Geography 15, Physical Geography

Course Description: This course will provide you with insights into the field of Physical Geography. You will be exposed to various subtopics including: the energy-atmosphere system; the water/weather/climate systems; the earth/atmosphere interface; soils/ecosystems/biomes, geologic time; earth resources; human geography/population growth; and geospatial technologies. This course will spend time teaching you to critically think as a geographer does in order to solve geographic and geospatial problems. You will be able to transfer these thinking skills to other areas of your life. Intended audience: this course is intended to satisfy general education requirements for non-majors as well as one of the first courses expected of geography majors.

Text: Please bring the text with you to class. There will be in class writing assignments on occasion that may require use of the text.

Tests/Exams: There will be two lecture exams during the semester: one midterm exam and one final exam. Each exam is worth 20% of your grade.

Homework: There will be two forms of homework: 1) project work (discussed below); and 2) reading from the text.

Make-up Work: In the advent of extenuating circumstances (evaluated by me on a case by case basis), make-up work will be assigned (but only under such circumstances).

Grading Policy: Grades will be assigned based on the following criteria:

2 Tests = 40% (20% each)
2 Projects = 40% (20% each)
Labs = 10% (total of all labs)
In-Class Assignments = 5% (total of all activities)
Activism Points = 5% (total of all activities)


A grading curve will not be used to determine grades. Grades will be determined as follows:

A = 90-100%
B = 80-90%
C = 70-80%
D = 60-70%
F = < 60%

Projects: Two (2) group projects will be assigned during the course of the semester. The first will be a poster session - your research is presented to your peers via the poster format (further details are given below). The second project will be in the form of a multimedia project where your group presents information to the rest of the class on some aspect of physical geology. You will be asked to present this information using the media of your choice (i.e. video, skit, slideshow, etc. - further details are given below). Each project is described in detail below.

In-Class Assignments: I ask that you bring paper with you to class each time we meet. The purpose is to use writing to assess learning and for us to give one another feedback during the semester on such things as what strategies could help to improve the learning environment, what's working well, etc. Also the writing assignments will provide both cross-sectional and longitudinal data on the processes and content you will be acquiring - in other words, I'll be able to see what you've learned after a particular assignment, as well as what you've learned through the course of the semester.  Entries will include short, in-class writing assignments, surveys, evaluations, and other feedback I ask of you during the semester.

Activism Points: During the course of the semester you will be asked to log 5 EarthCaches. You will need to create a (free) Geocaching account at www.geocaching.com. All 5 EarthCaches must be ones created by the user "ccearthcaches". You must email the correct responses to me (ccearthcaches) to get credit for this portion of your grade. One EarthCache will be done during class together to show you how they're done. Then you must do 2 more before the midterm and the last 2 a week before the final exam for full credit.


Goals:

The primary goal of this course is to teach you to think critically in order to be able to make appropriate decisions that are based on logical analysis and sound reasoning. You will be given the opportunity to do this in the context of learning about the environment of the earth as well as the inter- and intrapersonal environment within the classroom and out in the field. One factor that could make the biggest difference in your success in this class might well be a sanguine, respectful attitude. It is my intent to create a classroom culture that promotes and supports that type of attitude.

Student Learning Outcomes:

· By the end of the course you will be able to collect, compile, organize, transform, analyze, and make intelligent land use decisions from analyzing raw geographic data.

· By the end of the course you will have worked cooperatively with a small group of peers to design and present two research projects to the public.

· By the end of the course you will learn to summarize scientific concepts using a scientific/technical writing style.

· By the end of the course you will demonstrate an understanding of the elements of critical thinking, the standards used to measure critical thinking, and the intellectual traits that you will further develop during this course.


Poster Session Guide

Objectives:
1. Present material using a poster format to the rest of the class (material and format are described below).
2. Work interdependently and cooperatively with group members during each phase of the project.

Poster Examples
10 Rules for Poster Presentations
Do's and Dont's of a Poster Presentation

Background: One form of information exchange between geologists is the poster session. It is designed to be a quick, efficient means for learning about the latest research. A written description of the idea or research to be presented (called an Abstract) is submitted to the scientific meeting review committee. If accepted, the poster is presented during the convention with other posters usually in a large conference room where the scientists convene and view the posters, discussing / critiquing the ideas with the presenters.

Expectations:
1. Poster Ideas
   A) pick a concept related to physical geography that you would like to learn more about
   B) choose a topic either:
     i) not covered in class; or
     ii) covered, but you'll cover it in more detail

2. Poster Format
   A) should have both textual and diagrammatic information (typed/wordprocessed text; neatly drawn graphics; etc.)
   B) should have a list of
references cited (list each source of information you used)
   C) should be professional (neat, clear, legible, high quality)

   D) Use the online citation machine: EasyBib.com

3. Presentations
   A) one group member remains with the poster to explain, defend, clarify ideas at all times during the presentation
   B) others evaluate the other posters, completing a checklist for each group (divide the task up)

Click here to see the evaluation form.

4. Groups
   A) 3 to 5 students per group
   B) divide responsibilities between group members
   C) group grade will be determined from:
     i) peer review = 20% (from class evaluations)
     ii) instructor review = 80%
   D) individual grade will be determined in the following manner:
     i) group grade = 100 points
     ii) individual grade = (group grade) X (# students in group), then group splits up these points as they decide is best for them

Example: 4 group members get 80/100 for their group grade. 4 X 80 = 320, so the group must decide how to divide the 320 points amongst themselves (i.e. 80 points each; or 90 points for two people that did more work and 70 points for two others that did less, etc.).

Deadline: The poster session is due to be presented on the dates listed in the calendar. The poster session will be held during the scheduled lecture for those days. Posters will be turned in for credit at the end of the hour along with evaluations of all group presentations.

Support:
1. Research
   A) In the library there are many books on various aspects of physical geography, check the online catalog or ask a reference librarian for assistance.
   B) Within the community there are several consulting firms and governmental agencies that do geographical/GIS consulting - call them up and ask them questions.
   C) Other students and faculty at Columbia College may be able to help guide your searches.
   D) I will be available during my office hours for help and consultation.

2. Materials
   A) The earth science department may have some materials and I may be able to provide limited supplies - see me if you need support in this area.

Remember -- the main goal is to learn something new and to share your findings with others in the class. Pick something interesting and fun - and have fun being creative with this project!!

Information on Abstracts


    StoryMap Project Guide

    Objectives:

    1. You will present research findings using a combination of media forms to the rest of the class (research and format are described below).
    2. You will work interdependently and cooperatively with group members during each phase of the project.

    Background:

    StoryMap presentations are becoming increasingly popular due to their effectiveness in communicating information. Webmapping programs that incorporate video, audio, textual, graphic, animated, and other media forms are now mainstream in business, scientific, and educational applications. Research has shown that people acquire knowledge and information in a variety of modalities (eg. visually, auditorally, kinesthetically, etc.). In order to effectively communicate your research to your fellow classmates, you will design a StoryMap project that uses more than one media form (i.e. video, slides, audio, text, maps, models, etc.). Remember, you are trying to: 1) learn new information; and 2) effectively communicate that information to others.

    Expectations:

    1. Project Ideas:
       A) pick a concept related to Physical Geography that you would like to learn more about
       B) choose a topic either:
         i) not covered in class
         ii) covered, but your group will research it in more detail

    2. Possible Topics:
       A) Climate Change and Severe Weather
       B) Water Resources and Tuolumne County
       C) Tectonics, Earthquakes, and Volcanism: A New Plate Boundary at Sonora Pass?!
       D) Landslides and Logging: Is There a Connection?
       E) Physical Geography of the Mother Load
       F) Soil Erosion and Climate Change: What Can California Do About It?
       G) Using Satellites to Monitor the Earth's Changing Environment
       H) Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Mammoth Lakes
       I) Groundwater Contamination/Remediation
       J) Clouds and Fog: Is Fog Diminishing in the Central Valley? What's Going On?
       K) Population and Dwindling Resources
       L) Historic Tsunamis Around the World
       M) Historic Volcanic Eruptions Around the World
       O) The Greenhouse Effect or The Ozone Hole
       P) Fossil Fuels and the Environment: What Can We Do to Lessen Our Dependence on Fossil Fuels?

    These topics are intended to motivate you to generate your own ideas; you may choose one of those above, or a different one. Make sure the scope of your topic is manageable for the given time allotment.

    3. Project Format:
       A) should have an Abstract (see rules for writing an Abstract below)
         i) a concise, informative summary/statement of conclusions reached
         ii) not more than 150 words
         iii) turned in to me at the beginning of the presentation
       B) should have two or more forms of the following media in the presentation:
         i) audio, video, slides, dramatic skit, models, musical presentation, etc.
       C) should have a list of references cited (listing each source of information used; use the online citation machine:
    EasyBib.com
         i) any statement that is not general knowledge needs to be credited
         ii) do not just use encyclopedias and textbooks
         iii) use primary (scientific journals, interviews with researchers) and secondary sources (books and review articles that deal with a specific topic)
       D) should be professional (clear, audible, legible, neat, high quality, etc.)

    4. Presentations:
       A) each presentation will be 8 to 10 minutes in length with time for questions afterward from the class
       B) each presentation will be evaluated by the members of the class on a standardized evaluation form to be provided

    5. Groups:
       A) there will be 3 to 4 students per group
       B) responsibilities will be divided among group members
       C) the group grade will be determined from:
         i) peer review = 20% (from evaluations)
         ii) instructor input = 80%
       D) individual grades will be determined in the following manner:
         i) group grade = 100 points
         ii) individual grade = (group grade) X (# of students in group), then the group members split up these points as they decide appropriate (100 points maximum, 50 points minimum)

    Example: 3 group members get 80/100 for their group grade. 3 X 80 = 240, so the group must decide how to divide up these 240 points amongst themselves (i.e. 80 points each, or 90 points for two members that put in the greatest effort and 60 points for the third member that did very little (if that's what happened), etc.).

    Deadline:
    The project is given in the calendar. Groups will sign up for presentation times. Evaluations will be due at the end of each class hour.

    Support:
    1. Research
       A) Your Textbook.
       B) Online - internet resources may be an important source of information.
       C)  In the library there are many books on various aspects of earth science, check the online catalog or ask a reference librarian for assistance.
       D) Within the community there are several consulting firms and governmental agencies that do geological consulting - call them up and ask them questions.
       E) Other students and faculty at Columbia College may be able to help guide your searches.
       F) I will be available during my office hours for help and consultation.

    2. Materials
       A) Columbia College may be able to provide some demonstration materials on a check out basis, otherwise see me if you need support in this area.
       B) The College has a VCR, a slide projector, an overhead projector and possible access to a multimedia station.

    Click here to see the evaluation form used.

    Remember - the main goals are to:1) learn something new and to present it to others in the class; and 2) to work cooperatively and interdependently with your group members in an enjoyable, respectful, and polite manner. Pick something interesting and fun - and enjoy being creative with this project! Projects in the past have been quite interesting - ranging from demonstrations of sea floor spreading and subduction on models built by students, to short skits demonstrating earthquake preparedness, to videotapes of clearcuts and sedimentation problems.


Project Proposal Outline

Name(s):

Project Title:

Objectives:

Statement of the Problem:

Significance of the Problem:

Methodology:

Timeline/Task Schedule:

Budget:

Equipment List:

References:


Midterm Exam

Answer the questions circled below. Write your answers on the blank paper provided for you. Please remember to keep your answers to one page or less in length. I would suggest that you read the grading rubric over one more time before beginning.

Exam Examples (for organization/format)

Here are the midterm questions:

1. Discuss the energy-atmosphere system. Include in your discussion what you learned more about solar energy to earth and the seasons; and Earth's modern atmosphere. Also discuss how geoscientists study the planet to come to the conclusions they do. Finally discuss why you think it is significant to study these topics.

2. Discuss the energy-atmosphere system. Include in your discussion what you learned more about the atmosphere and surface energy balances; global temperatures; and atmospheric and oceanic circulations. Also discuss how geoscientists study the planet to come to the conclusions they do. Finally discuss why you think it is significant to study these topics.

3. Discuss the water, weather and climate systems on earth. Include in your discussion what you learned more about water and atmospheric moisture; and weather. Also discuss how geoscientists study the planet to come to the conclusions they do. Finally discuss why you think it is significant to study these topics.

4. Discuss the water, weather and climate systems on earth. Include in your discussion what you learned more about water resources; global climate systems; and climate change. Also discuss how geoscientists study the planet to come to the conclusions they do. Finally discuss why you think it is significant to study these topics.

 Grading Rubric

High-quality responses contain:

  • an overview of what you’ll discuss including a statement defining the main point

  • specific examples supporting your ideas

  • 2 or more carefully labeled diagrams depicting important processes

  • accuracy, clarity, precision, depth, and breadth when discussing content

  • good organization, well-developed arguments, few mechanical errors

  • a short, succinct summary of the main points with a conclusion statement

Medium-quality responses contain:

  • an overview of what you’ll discuss

  • a general example supporting your ideas

  • one or more diagrams poorly labeled

  • a few accurate statements (some inaccurate statements); less clarity, precision, depth, breadth content being discussed

  • loosely organized thoughts, moderately developed arguments, some mechanical errors

  • an unorganized conclusion/summary

Lower-quality responses contain:

  • no (or a poor) introductory overview

  • no (or minimal) examples supporting your ideas

  • no diagrams, or diagrams with no labeling

  • inaccurate statements, lack of clarity, precision, depth, breadth of the content discussed

  • disorganized thoughts, weakly developed arguments, some mechanical errors

  • a weak conclusion that doesn’t summarize the main points

Lowest-quality responses contain:

  • no overview

  • no examples

  • no diagrams

  • inaccurate statements; no clarity, precision, depth, breadth of content knowledge

  • unorganized, undeveloped arguments, mechanical errors throughout

  • no conclusion


Final Exam

Please answer the questions circled below. Keep your responses limited to one side of one page for each question - anything longer than one page will not be assessed. You may not use any notes or other materials during the test - it is closed book. I will be available to answer any questions you might have. Good luck!

Exam Examples (for organization/format)

Here are the final exam questions:

1.  Discuss the earth-atmosphere interface. Include in your discussion what you learned more about the dynamic planet; tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanism. Also discuss how geoscientists study the planet to come to the conclusions they do. Finally discuss why you think it is significant to study these topics.

2.  Discuss the earth-atmosphere interface. Include in your discussion what you learned more about weathering, karst landscapes, and mass movement; river systems. Also discuss how geoscientists study the planet to come to the conclusions they do. Finally discuss why you think it is significant to study these topics.

3.  Discuss the earth-atmosphere interface. Include in your discussion what you learned more about oceans, coastal systems, and wind processes; and glacial and periglacial landscapes. Also discuss how geoscientists study the planet to come to the conclusions they do. Finally discuss why you think it is significant to study these topics.

4. Discuss soils, ecosystems, and biomes. Include in your discussion what you learned more about the geography of soils; ecosystem essentials; and terrestrial biomes. Also discuss how geoscientists study the planet to come to the conclusions they do. Finally discuss why you think it is significant to study these topics.

Grading Rubric

High-quality responses contain:

  • an overview of what you’ll discuss including a statement defining the main point

  • specific examples supporting your ideas

  • 2 or more carefully labeled diagrams depicting important processes

  • accuracy, clarity, precision, depth, and breadth when discussing content

  • good organization, well-developed arguments, few mechanical errors

  • a short, succinct summary of the main points with a conclusion statement

Medium-quality responses contain:

  • an overview of what you’ll discuss

  • a general example supporting your ideas

  • one or more diagrams poorly labeled

  • a few accurate statements (some inaccurate statements); less clarity, precision, depth, breadth content being discussed

  • loosely organized thoughts, moderately developed arguments, some mechanical errors

  • an unorganized conclusion/summary

Lower-quality responses contain:

  • no (or a poor) introductory overview

  • no (or minimal) examples supporting your ideas

  • no diagrams, or diagrams with no labeling

  • inaccurate statements, lack of clarity, precision, depth, breadth of the content discussed

  • disorganized thoughts, weakly developed arguments, some mechanical errors

  • a weak conclusion that doesn’t summarize the main points

Lowest-quality responses contain:

  • no overview

  • no examples

  • no diagrams

  • inaccurate statements; no clarity, precision, depth, breadth of content knowledge

  • unorganized, undeveloped arguments, mechanical errors throughout

  • no conclusion


“For students with disabilities, (i.e. physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, financial, etc., in nature), who believe that they may need special accommodations in this class, I encourage you to discuss options with me within the first 10 days of instruction.”