Most university faculty have probably heard these or other complaints
many times. All too often, such statements are honest pleas from students
who really do have a hard time making the connections between geoscience
and their current and future lives as businesspeople, artists, homeowners,
voters, and so forth. The traditional large-lecture format of introductory
geoscience classes can make it very difficult to engage students and build
In the University of Vermont's Geology
Department, we have used past and current educational research to help
develop a large introductory class that reaches out to students' learning
styles and interests. In addition to teaching the lecture portion of the
course using proven and effective techniques, we have developed a series
of discussion sections that combine hands-on activities and effective discussions.
These sections give students a chance to work with the material first-hand
in a variety of ways, and to pursue questions and ideas of interest to them
with the support and aid of fellow students.
We have had great success teaching the class in this manner. Our experiences
confirm that research-based educational methods common in secondary schools
can be effectively applied to teaching at the university level. This website
offers a detailed walkthrough of our curriculum and methods, with focus
on the Discussion Sections, so that others who are interested in applying
some or all of our ideas have a place to start.
The Class describes the overall structure and
philosophy of the class.
Discussion presents an overview of discussion
as an educational practice
Discussion Sections describes how we have
applied these ideas and offers downloadable PDFs of our curriculum.
Curriculum Downloads offers complete PDFs
of our discussion section curriculum.
Student Feedback includes comments and other
feedback from students who have taken the course.
Contact Us offers contact information and
some basic information about us.