GEOL 007 (Earth Hazards): An introductory class combining the sciences of education and geology at the University of Vermont



The class


Discussion sections

Curriculum downloads

Student feedback

Contact us

Introduction: What are we doing and why?

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 personal interest.

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.