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.

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