Department of Earth & Environmental Science: Spring 2021 Plans for teaching

Overall mission: We are scientists who study the Earth. We do this work through field, lab and computational methodologies that are reflected in how we teach our courses. We are as disappointed as you are that Spring 2021 will require some adjustments to how we do things, but we’re excited by how some of the upcoming changes will help us engage with you in different and in some ways more effective ways. We are committed to your educational success by creatively finding ways to use technology as well as safely meeting in person whenever possible. In more ways than ever, our plans for teaching during Spring 2021 reflect the unique blend of “high-tech” and “hands-on” that characterizes our discipline.

Our faculty are deeply committed to our teaching mission and have presented at national conferences devoted to earth science teaching, published in national journals, and received grants to help us continuously improve our teaching. During the past summer and fall we have worked together to find solutions to our circumstances. Each of our classes is unique and each faculty member has formulated individual ways to continue the teaching mission in the face of this pandemic. Most classes are “hybrid” and include in-person activities whenever possible. Our largest classes were forced to move online because of social distancing measures in our auditorium-style classrooms.

How will I get help? All our faculty have office hours on multiple days of the week and are available by appointment outside of office hours. Per guidance from the university, we will be doing this via Zoom to reduce our footprint on campus. While we’d rather meet in person, Zoom does allow you to share your computer screen with us, which should help us diagnose any technical difficulties that we can help with. Most courses at the 200 level or lower also have teaching assistants (TA’s) that will also be available to help students via Zoom and in some classes with laboratories, during the lab session in person.

How will I be tested?Currently we plan to do all testing in hybrid and online courses online. Some faculty may choose to give open note/take-home style exams that do not require exam monitoring, but others may require using exam proctoring services such as Proctor U or Respondus Lockdown. If technology is required, we plan to give you a chance to try out the technology before the day of the exam, so that we can work with you to solve any problems that may arise with technology.

How do I find out more? Many of our courses have already opened their Canvas sites and students should check there for the latest information about specific courses. Students should also feel free to contact the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Rebecca Freeman.

Individual Course Plans:

EES 110-201: Endangered Planet: Introduction to Environmental Geology: Ms. Summer Brown: ES 110 is a virtual course taught synchronously (meeting two days a week). Early in the week, students complete lesson material (watching lectures, reading associated book chapters) so that scheduled class meetings can be dedicated to active learning, assessment, and interaction. The Tuesday class functions as a recitation, where students can get questions answered, get clarification on previous week’s assignments, discuss topics more in-depth with the instructor and TAs, or chat about current events relating to the course. On Thursdays the instructor, TAs, and students meet to complete the weekly exercise in small groups. These small groups give students a chance to work as a team, support each other, and even make friends during this disconnected time. The instructor and TAs will move throughout the groups to check in, provide feedback, and ensure that students are confident in the material and the directions. Feedback is provided on Canvas where appropriate, and students who have additional questions are also welcome to book a private office hours appointment with either the instructor or TAs if they do not feel as comfortable asking questions in front of the class. All students are provided with an actual plan for success, a customizable calendar suggesting what days to read material in the book, watch online lectures, complete quizzes, meet for our weekly exercise, and complete study guide questions.

EES 110-202: Endangered Planet: Introduction to Environmental Geology: Prof. Kevin Yeager: Since my course is 100% online, students attend exclusively via Zoom. There is no “homework” (other than voluntarily reading the “suggested” textbook) in this course. The closest thing would be the in-class exercises which are done via a combination of Canvas (to answer the questions) and Zoom (to receive guidance/have questions addressed by myself and the course TA). There are 3 hours of scheduled office hours via Zoom every week. If these conflict with student schedules, they can schedule meetings with me outside of these days/times. Students can interact with me via Zoom, phone, and email. I do not offer in-person meetings this term given concerns around COVID.

EES 120-001: Sustainable Planet: The Geology of Natural Resources: Dr. Kent Ratajaski: Class meets synchronously on Zoom on MWF from 11-11:50 PM. Course materials and assignments are available on Canvas. Midterm exams and the final exam will be proctored with LockDown Browser and Monitor, so students will need to have a working webcam.

EES 150-001: Earthquakes & Volcanoes: Prof. Rebecca Freeman: This course uses a “flipped” model, where content is delivered via closed-captioned video, and optional Zoom class time is devoted to answering questions, reviewing difficult concepts, and working on exercises in breakout rooms together. The professor and two teaching assistants all hold 3 hours each of office hours via Zoom weekly and are available outside of that time by appointment. All work is submitted via Canvas with feedback given for each answer, correct or incorrect. This class gives students flexibility in doing their work (~3 weeks of material posted at any time) and allows students to drop their lowest grades in each graded category: quizzes, exercises, and exams. Exams are open notes and are not monitored. They are designed to test problem-solving and application of concepts, not rote memorization. Exams draw from an extensive test bank to ensure that each student has a unique version.

EES 150-002: Earthquakes & Volcanoes: Prof. Dave Moecher: Zoom lectures permitting questions and chats monitored by the TA with live Zoom office hours after class or by appointment. Zoom recordings and annotated powerpoints posted to Canvas after class.

EES 160-001-004: Geology for Teachers: Prof. Frank Ettensohn: Lectures are in-person and can be attended virtually online via Echo 360 (in Canvas). Daily assessments, homework, and exams are all done online via Canvas. Labs are only offered in-person in 213 Slone and are split into 1.5-hour sessions for social distancing. Lab quizzes and exercises are all submitted online via Canvas. Students can interact with the professor and TAs in-person during and after classes; in-person or via Zoom during office hours; and by appointment in-person or via Zoom, as noted in the online syllabus.

EES 170-201: Blue Planet: Introduction to Oceanography: Prof. Rebecca Freeman: This is a true, asynchronous online course designed and approved for an online format before the pandemic. It does not meet, although the professor and two TA’s each have three hours of office hours via Zoom each week to ensure that students who need help get it. Students may also schedule additional Zoom time if needed. Students have at least three weeks’ worth of material to work through at any time and can work at their own pace, other than meeting deadlines posted in the syllabus. Most lessons include a video, a practice quiz, a page with additional resources for learning (videos, journal articles, links to websites) and a graded reflection quiz. Most weeks include at least one “hands-on” exercise, often using Google Earth to explore data concerning the ocean. Exams are open notes and are not monitored. They are designed to test application of concepts, not rote memorization. Exams draw from an extensive test bank to ensure that each student has a unique version.

EES 180-001: The Geology of the National Parks: Dr. Kent Ratajaski: This is an asynchronous, compressed course that starts on March 10. There are no classes to attend in person, and students won't have to log in at specific times to receive instruction. All course materials and assignments will be available on Canvas. Due to the compressed nature of the course, the learning will be fairly accelerated during the 8 weeks that it meets. Midterm exams and the final exam will be proctored with LockDown Browser and Monitor, so students will need a working webcam.

EES 190-001: A Climate for Change: Ms. Summer Brown: EES 190 is a virtual and asynchronous course. Students will work independently to complete the weekly lessons. This may include watching recorded lectures, taking quizzes, completing exercises, engaging in discussions with the instructor, TA, or other students on Canvas, or analyzing and reporting on their own behavior or surroundings beyond the computer. Students are given the option of a small peer group within the class if they would like more interaction and support during this disconnected time. Where appropriate, feedback will be provided by the instructor and TAs via Canvas. Otherwise, the instructor and TA have multiple options for office hour appointments every week and students will be encouraged to interact with instructor, TA, and other students so that they still feel supported and connected. All students are provided with an actual plan for success, a customizable calendar suggesting what days of the week to read material in the book, watch online lectures, complete assignments, and complete study guide questions.

EES 220-001-004: Principles of Physical Geology: Dr. Kent Ratajeski: This is a hybrid course. For students who want to attend at least some of the lectures in-person, students in Sections 001 and 004 will attend lecture on Tuesdays, and via Zoom on Thursdays. Students in sections 002 and 003 will attend via Zoom on Tuesdays, and in the classroom on Thursdays. Students also have the option of attending all the lectures online if they choose. In-person attendance is required for lab sections, and each section will be divided into two groups, A and B, which will meet in the lab room for half of the scheduled lab time. For the lecture, midterm exams and the final exam will be proctored with LockDown Browser and Monitor, so students will need a working webcam. For the lab, exams will be taken in-person in the lab room and proctored by LockDown Browser.

EES 235: Fundamentals of Geology II: Ms. Summer Brown: EES 235 is a digital geoscience methods course which lends itself well to a synchronous hybrid model. Students decide if they’d prefer to install the necessary software on their computer and attend the twice-weekly classes virtually via Zoom or in-person in the computer lab with their peers. If they choose to attend from the computer lab they will have remote access to that computer if they suddenly need to be virtual (for example, if they are required to quarantine). Classes will typically involve some combination of live lecture, exercise work, project work, or writing workshopping. Most assessment and feedback will occur on Canvas. Some feedback may also be provided in individual breakout room meetings during writing workshop or project days, as needed. Students are encouraged to interact with the instructor and TA during class and are also welcome to book a private office hours appointment if they feel they require additional guidance.

EES 310: Exploring the Solar System: Prof. Tiku Ravat: Hybrid

EES 360: Mineralogy: Prof. Dave Moecher: Zoom lectures permitting questions and chats monitored by the TA with live Zoom office hours after class or by appointment. Zoom recordings and annotated powerpoints posted to Canvas after class. Lab is live in Rm. 203 SRB to permit physical distancing and opportunities for human interaction.

EES 420: Structural Geology: Prof. Ryan Thigpen: For EES 420 this semester, we are doing a hybrid delivery and this is largely a function of classroom limitations. Lectures are going to be delivered synchronously via Zoom and recorded for those that need to view them later. In lecture, I am trying to make it more interactive, with an in-class exercise or problem almost every day. Lab will be delivered in person, with the class being split into two groups to accommodate the room limitations. Any student that is uncomfortable with coming in person will have the opportunity to join via Zoom.

EES 480: Global Water Issues: Prof. Alan Fryar: We’ll meet in-person in the classroom every other Tuesday. These classes will be broadcast on Zoom to accommodate students who may not be able to attend in-person. On the intervening Tuesdays (except for 4/27), we won’t meet; students can use the time allocated for film viewing (we’re watching 14 films this semester, which are linked to assignments and live discussions). We’ll meet remotely each Thursday and on 4/27 via Zoom. Recordings of lectures, copies of my notes, and links to readings, videos, and assignments will be available on Canvas. Students will upload completed assignments to Canvas; I’ll provide comments on graded assignments for each student. Students will also be given credit for participating in discussions and giving a presentation. There are no exams. I’ve scheduled office hours twice weekly and told students they can contact me by e-mail or phone at other times.

EES 490: Earth Dynamics: Prof. Tiku Ravat: Hybrid

EES 555: Stratigraphy: Prof. Mike McGlue: Hybrid

EES 395-001: Special Problems in Geology: Prof. Andrea Erhardt: We will meet every other week to discuss readings and interview materials. Deliverables will be completed as a group during each session.

EES 585: Hydrogeology: Prof. Alan Fryar: We’ll meet in-person in the classroom every other Monday. These classes will be broadcast on Zoom to accommodate students who may not be able to attend in-person. On the intervening Mondays and on Wednesdays and Fridays, we’ll meet remotely via Zoom (I’ll lecture from the classroom). Recordings of lectures, copies of my notes, and links to readings, videos, and assignments will be available on Canvas. Students will upload completed assignments (including exams) to Canvas; I’ll provide comments on graded assignments for each student. Students will also be given credit for participating in discussions and giving a presentation (for grad students). I’ve scheduled office hours twice weekly and told students they can contact me by e-mail or phone at other times.

EES 630-001: Stable Isotopes in the Environment: Prof. Andrea Erhardt: We are starting the introduction lectures as virtual and will then do in-person laboratory activities. The later part of the class, discussions and paper readings, will depend on current case counts and student preferences.

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