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Geochemistry is often taught as a set of hard and fast principles. While it is necessary to impart a certain amount of information to understand geochemistry, it often appears to students as though there is only one interpretation of the data based on professorial opinion, group dynamics, literature review, and even political issues. By organizing a debate on a controversial topic early in the term, students are put in the position of learning beyond the classroom, and articulating their ideas to their group and before the class. In addition to course goals of promoting understanding of geochemical cycling and global warming, developing group rapport, and encouraging use of external resources, this exercise helps students to become better informed citizens.
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