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20 May 2019

Digital manipulation as a teaching aid

Photoshop is a powerful image editing program. Its “cloning” tool allows the removal of “distracting” data from geological imagery. Examine these four examples and consider the ethical limits of the technique. Is it okay to remove fractures and lichens from an outcrop photo in order to allow novices to focus on the geological content you want them to learn from?


18 February 2019

What the Best College Students Do, by Ken Bain

Periodically, the administrators at my college will buy a lot of copies of a particular book, and then distribute them to the faculty as a way of sharing a useful resource or message. Generally, I find that I have other more urgent ways to spend my reading time: books about astronomy or rocks or ancient life or politics or philosophy. But this semester there are a couple of new variables …


28 November 2017

A new approach for teaching the geologic history of Virginia

I believe in tinkering with my teaching, and reflecting on the new approaches to see if I think they’re worth keeping or not. One of the topics I teach is the geologic history of Virginia. I do this because it’s essential knowledge to put the students’ upcoming field trip in context, but it’s also a nice example of how geologic techniques can be applied to understand the history of a …


20 September 2017

Make It Stick, by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel

This past spring, when I attended the InTeGrate workshop called “Teaching About the Earth Online,” one of the participants recommended the book Make It Stick, by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel. Months later, the volume finally moved up in my reading queue to the top. It’s a fascinating account of the empirical research about how people successfully learn. I found it absolutely engaging and stimulating, in particular the …


30 March 2017

Research mini-conference in fourth year groundwater class

Fourth year and graduate students led a fun mini-conference during class in Groundwater Hydrology (CIVE 445, Civil Engineering at University of Victoria) yesterday. Local consulting and government hydrogeologists joined, making the students both nervous and excited to be presenting to professionals with up to forty years of groundwater experience.


22 March 2013

Introducing SmartFigures

Previously, I’ve hinted that I was working on a top secret special project for Pearson Education. Now that the books have been published, I wanted to take a moment to discuss the details of the project. In the newest editions of both Earth: An introduction to Physical Geology (Tarbuck, Lutgens, & Tasa, 2014) and Foundations of Earth Science (Lutgens, Tarbuck, & Tasa, 2014), you’ll find a series of videos that I’ve …