V01: Exercise Context

Two of these paired laboratory / follow-up activities were developed as experiential learning opportunities to replace four traditional lectures each, in EOSC 326, “Earth and Life Through Time”. The course is an elective for third or fourth year science students at UBC taking any specialization other than geoscience.

Overarching course level learning goals

  1. Express how the concept of geological time is an important factor in our understanding of the evolution of the Earth System.
  2. Apply basic geological principles and geoscience knowledge in the interpretation of Earth’s geological and biological history.
  3. Describe how the biosphere has adapted to exploit various environments over time.

Learning goals for the coupled lab / class exercise

  1. Determine the biostratigraphy, ages and environments of rocks along a profile using fossils found in three stratigraphic sections.
  2. Identify the features of graptolite and trilobite fossils which are used to determine ages of those fossils.
  3. Use the locations of these fossils as detailed on the geologic sections to sketch age boundaries for each section and correlate them.

Course, type, students

  1. EOSC 326, Earth and Life Through Time, taught by Dr. Stuart Sutherland.
  2. This is a science elective course for third and fourth year science majors, who are not taking a geoscience degree.
  3. The course is offered in the 13-week fall term. There are nominally three 50-minute lectures per week for 150 students.
  4. This video illustrates one exercise that replaces 4 lectures with the a hands-on experience plus a follow up whole-class activity.
  5. Text: Levin, H. L. The Earth Through Time (10th edition), 2013, Wiley.

Prerequisites for this particular lab / class exercise

  1. Completion of the first half of the course is expected
  2. No explicit pre-activity homework other than an expectation that the instructions and provided materials have been reviewed.


Exercise instructions, readings and homework are delivered to students online, before the lab begins. See the “Resources” page in the menu above left.
Teaching notes and tips

  1. Preparation before the lab: Paper handouts and online resources (see Resources menu item) must be prepared and checked. Students are pointed to an exercise page on the course website with details and resources. The page is very similar to the “Resources” page for this video. Meeting with teaching assistants is important so they and you know how the exercises are supposed to unfold, both in the lab and in the follow-up class.
  2. Starting, running, and closing the lab and classroom parts of this exercise: Both videos mention that getting started should be quick – no more than 3-4 minutes.
  3. Scheduling the lab exercise for 150 students: Students are sorted in to sets of 50 only by alphabetical name, and instructed to come to the lab either on Monday, Wednesday or Friday depending upon which of the three groups they are in. This is spelled out in a list that is posted on the Course website.
  4. Handling homework and in-class group work: Tasks on paper worksheets do not require extensive production of text or other work so they are quick to grade. There should be a simple rubric describing how to obtain a value of 0, 1, 2, or 3 for each individual item on worksheets.

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