In EPS182, Professor Francis MacDonald's students take a spring break trip to Sicily to study the geology of the region. They later use this information to write mock geology journal articles.Before the trip, the students attend several classes and labs devoted to discussing the geological evolution of Sicily. Francis also distributes a list of potential projects for individual students. Students choose their project topic, and they receive a list of references related to that topic. Additionally, Francis provides a field guide which lays out where the class will be going and what they'll be doing at each stop. He tells them which days in Italy will be relevant to each individual's specific project. StudentsDuring the trip, the class learns about the sedimentological and stratigraphic evolution of several regions, and students take field photos. Each student focuses on his or her own project for which he or she has to make observations and measurements.
Following the trip, each student writes a short format journal style paper (4-5 pages) that incorporates the relevant literature. Francis refers students to the submission guildelines website for an actual geology journal. These articles are then anonymously reviewed by class peers in which they included. Students are given a document about how to politely do peer reviews. After reading each others papers, students submit a summary of their observations, which Francis passes on to the author of the paper. Students receive grades for each part of this process. Then, at the end of the semester, Francis prints out the papers and gives out final copies in mock journal form.
Francis notes that tying the trip to Sicily with the final project motivates the student to be more engaged in day to day activities while in the field.