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Related Links Supplement for this course Field-based research projects are the focal point for my course in sedimentary geology. For each offering of the course, projects are selected which will enable students to engage in authentic research and learn fundamental principles of sedimentary geology at the same time. Projects have addressed problems as diverse as sedimentologic processes, paleoenvironmental interpretation, stratigraphic correlation between outcrops and the nature of contacts between units. Each semester, the specific content of the course, how the content is organized, which readings are chosen and selection of laboratory experiences are dictated by the nature of the specific project and are planned to support students in their work on the project. Less content may be "covered" with this approach and topics may not follow a "traditional" order (see syllabus), but students' depth of understanding, skills in scientific reasoning, sense of accomplishment, and growth in confidence are greatly enhanced. Class projects from half of the past four offerings of the course culminated in the presentation of three posters at regional GSA conferences. Results of the other two semesters were not submitted for presentation because the instructor failed to identify problems of adequate significance for the class to investigate. However, these projects did yield data which may be useful in future projects. Field projects must be chosen carefully so that they a) have the potential to yield results of scientific significance, and b) can be completed within the time-frame of one semester. In addition, it is essential to provide students with experiences that enable them to develop the expertise necessary to gather and make sense of the data. To ensure these conditions, the faculty member should be involved actively as a collaborator in the project. Therefore it is mutually beneficial if the class project is related to the faculty member's research or to a topic of interest to him/her. Guidelines for the development of successful projects are available in the Instructor's Notes file.
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