Fundamentals of Geology

Mike Strickler: Rogue Community College


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E-mail address:

Object: The object of this course is to familiarize the student with the basic concepts and practices of the modern Earth Sciences. Twenty-six separate episodes from the "Earth Revealed" series cover all aspects of tectonic and surface processes, and should be sufficient to give the motivated student a preliminary view of the earth and how it works to build new materials, and then tear them down again.

Accommodations: Any student who feels that they may need academic accommodations for a disability, such as vision, hearing, orthopedic, learning disabilities, psychological or other medical conditions, should make an appointment with the Disability Services.

Optional (but suggested) Materials:

Text: Physical Geology: Earth Revealed, by McGeary & Plummer

The text is optional. The majority of the questions on the exams are taken from the videos, and it is possible to do well in this course without purchasing the book. HOWEVER, not all of us are able to learn from a video, and need pictures and words that don't move. If you are one of those who need a stable learning platform, buy the book. Either way, the choice is yours. DO NOT come to me later and complain about your grade and try to blame it on me for not forcing you to buy it.

Video Study Guides: Available online (click here for the study guide index)

These are available for your use and are probably a real good idea. There is one for each episode, and their intent is to help focus your thoughts on those aspects of the lessons that are (in my opinion) the most relevant. THE STUDY GUIDES ARE NOT HOMEWORK. Do not send them to me - they are for your use only! See below for more information.

Course Requirements:

1.) Review the mandatory online Orientation Video

2.) Establish e-mail contact with the instructor before the end of the first week

You may receive a welcoming message from me that you can respond to; however, even if you do not get this reminder, you MUST make e-mail contact before the end of the first week or you will be administratively dropped from the class. Simply logging onto Blackboard and hoping I find out that you were there will NOT get it done.

3.) View all 26 episodes of the Earth Revealed series

Click here to go to the G100 Syllabus

Click here for an index to the episodes on

4.) Successful completion of three (3) exams during the scheduled testing week(s)

NOTE: The exams will be available at all three (3) of the main RCC facilities (RVC, RWC, TRC), and may be taken at any time the Testing Center is open during the indicated week (refer to the syllabus for testing weeks). Take as long as you need: walk in with the testing center dude (or dudette) and stay until (s)he leaves - that's just fine with me. What you can't do is leave and come back later to finish (doesn't seem quite fair, as I'm sure you will agree). But whatever your scheduling strategy, be sure to allow yourself sufficient time to complete each exam (approximately 2 hours should be plenty, but the amount of time YOU need may vary).

BE SURE TO CALL THE TESTING CENTER THE WEEK PRIOR TO THE EXAM to confirm their hours of operation. Their hours can and will change from week-to-week and term-to-term, and it is YOUR responsibility to know what they will be for each of the exams. In addition, the hours may be different at each of the testing centers: don't assume that since RVC is open, for example, that the others will be open as well. "They were closed when I got there" or "I got there 15 minutes before they closed and didn't have enough time" are not valid excuses* for missing an exam!

PLEASE NOTE: There are no provisions in place to take the exams off-campus. What this means is that you will need to make it to one of the RCC Testing Centers during each of the three (3) testing weeks.

Concerning make-up exams: Make-up exams are rarely practical, and are not possible at all without prior notification to the instructor. If you know you will need to miss an exam, FOR A VALID REASON*, contact me as early as possible and we can try to arrange an alternate schedule. No matter what, don't send me an e-mail the following week and expect to be able to take it.


(* Most testing weeks include well over 40 hours of available Testing Center time, and there are very few legitimate excuses for missing an exam. A "valid excuse" can include medical situations and/or emergencies, previously scheduled temporal conflicts, and others as may be determined.)

The Episodes:

Availability: All episodes for G100 are available online at Click here for an index to the individual episodes. Recorded copies (on VHS and/or DVD?) may also be available at the RCC library and/or learning center.

The Video Study Guides: I have put together Video Study Guides to accompany each episode. They roughly follow each episode in order, and are designed to help you focus on what I feel are the most important issues. This does not mean that all of what is on the study guides will be on the test, or that there will not be other aspects of the course for which you will be held responsible. Make use of them if you choose (I highly recommend doing this). The study guides are available through the G100 syllabus, or select the following link to go straight to the Video Study Guide Index.

Additional Information: In most cases, I have links to the class notes I use in my on-campus Geology series on the Redwood campus. If you desire more information on a given topic, feel free to wander through my notes as needed. The links are available through the G100 syllabus, or select the following link to go straight to the Geology 101/102/103 Index. In addition, a great deal of general earth science information is available through answers to questions in my "Ask a Geologist" section. Click here for the Ask GeoMan Index of Questions.

Final grades: Average of the three (3) exams. There is no homework or other assignments.

The Exams: Tests are an unavoidable complication to all aspects of life, but I'll try to make the ones you have to take here as enjoyable as possible (and a learning experience unto themselves). Expect what you see. I like a wide variety of questions, including: multiple choice, matching (always a challenge), diagrams, and short and long answer essay. I recommend that you USE A PENCIL! There is a high probability that you'll want to change an answer, and being able to erase helps hide the damage. DO NOT bring or use a scantron (I find them highly distasteful). You will need a sheet of paper for a short essay on the 3rd exam.

Concerning notes: I am absolutely convinced that a person's ability to understand and remember something is directly proportional to the number of times their brain has to juggle that particular bit of information. I strongly encourage note-taking: both while viewing the videos and while reading in the text. As a reward for good note-taking, I will allow you to use one (1) sheet of paper for notes during exams (letter-sized paper, both sides). Photocopies of any kind are not allowed, and the tests are not open book, nor are they open neighbor. All this means is that if you want to take the time to write it down you can use it during the test. Yes, this includes copying charts and diagrams.

Concerning the tests: G100 is not designed to be an easy class, and if you're hoping to skate your way to an "A" you may be in trouble. My tests are considered difficult by many students (at all levels), but it is amazing how many pass with an "A" or "B" by the time the term is over. The majority of questions are taken from concepts covered in the videos, and in most cases referred to on the video study guides. The study guides are not meant to be mirrors of the exams, nor are they designed to replace the text or a full understanding of the videos themselves. Their only purpose is to help direct your focus into areas of importance insofar as any reasonable study of the earth is concerned. In general, I do not test on memorized facts (these are always available in reference materials). The intent of the exams I write is to help you think and apply the important concepts to real world situations. This involves extension of what you have learned into similar situations and settings, and the application of your understanding of earth processes.

Concerning test results: Test results will be posted on my G100 website, coded by student ID number. They should usually be available by noon on the Thursday of the week following an exam. I apologize for the delay, but once the testing centers close at the end of the testing week the completed exams disappear into the void — only God and the RCC courier actually know where they go — and they don't re-appear in my mailbox until the middle of the following week.

Concerning Re-takes and/or Extra Credit: Don't ask 'cuz they can't happen (for a number of very good reasons).

Concerning make-up exams: It is strongly suggested that you make it to the Testing Center during the testing week (and at least 2 hours before they close for the day). For most of the exam weeks you have more than 40 hours to choose from, and there are very few legitimate excuses for missing a test (see above for additional information). In any event, a make-up test can be very difficult to arrange, may involve a late afternoon or evening trip to the Redwood Campus in Grants Pass, and are sometimes impossible to arrange at all. Also, I tend to get very cranky when I have to attempt to arrange one, so....... DON'T MISS THE TESTS!

PLEASE NOTE: Any missed exam, IF allowed to be made up, may result in a 10 to 20 point penalty (to be determined on a case-by-case basis).

Note: It is your responsibility to contact the testing center to confirm their hours of operation for the testing weeks. There is no way I can anticipate what they will be.


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