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Teaching MineralogyJohn B. Brady, David W. Mogk, and Dexter Perkins III, Editors
(this page revised 4/4/2012)Description
Table of Contents with links to the full text articles.
i-viii + 406 pages. ISBN 0-939950-44-8 978-0-939950-44-7.
This book is an outgrowth of a workshop on teaching mineralogy held at Smith College in June 1996 and sponsored by a grant from the Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation (DUE-9554635). Seventy participants, from diverse institutional settings and from all academic ranks, met to explore common interests in improving instruction in mineralogy. At the workshop, participants took part as both instructors and as students. They had the opportunity to explore a variety of new instructional methods and materials and also to observe their colleagues as instructors. All were encouraged to test these activities in their own classrooms, to evaluate their effectiveness, to suggest changes to the authors, and to develop new and complementary exercises. The sourcebook before you is the product of this group effort.
Teaching mineralogy is both challenging and rewarding. Mineralogy is typically taught as the first pre-professional course in an undergraduate geology curriculum. The large amount of information and abstract nature of much of the content presents formidable barriers to learning for many students. In recent years, educational scholars have discovered a great deal about the ways in which students learn. Indeed, much of the discussion at the workshop was on student learning rather than on faculty teaching. Many felt we need to be more concerned about what students can do as scientists rather than just evaluating their performance on exams.
Mineralogy, like all sciences, is a changing and expanding field. As our knowledge base continues to grow, it is appropriate to reexamine regularly what we teach and how we teach in mineralogy courses. Exciting new advances in mineralogical research, stronger connections to cognate disciplines (e.g. geochemistry, geophysics, materials science), and increasing relevance of mineralogy to society (e.g. environmental geology, resource utilization) all must be effectively incorportated into modem mineralogy courses. Our search has lead us to believe that there is a convergence of the way we conduct our science and the way we teach it-and the common theme is discovery-based exercises.
There is a national mandate to reform all science education (e.g. Shaping the Future, New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology; NSF 96-139) and many in the mineralogical community are responding. New goals for science education identified in Shaping the Future call for coursework that is more meaningful and relevant for students in their professional training; opportunities for students to "be" scientific by simulating, replicating, or engaging true research activities; and for providing students with life- long learning skills for creative problem-solving, quantitative reasoning, clear writing and speaking, and information and data gathering. To achieve these goals, while teaching the underlying principles and knowledge base of mineralogy, is the challenge we face. New teaching approaches that may help include collaborative learning, peer instruction, alternative assessments, and especially, use of discovery- and inquiry-based exercises. We can emphasize the relevance of our course material by showing connections with sub-disciplines in geology, cognate disciplines, and society in general.
Within this volume you will find numerous exercises that can be applied in the teaching of mineralogy and related courses. There are hands-on, experimental, theoretical, and analytical exercises. All have been written with the hope of optimizing student learning. At the workshop there was little interest in developing a "prescriptive" approach to mineralogy by making recommendations on a specific content that might be universally applied in mineralogy courses and curricula. We recognize that every student population will have different needs, every faculty vi member will have her or his own areas expertise, every department will have its own curricular needs, every institution will have its own resources, and every geographic setting will provide unique educational opportunities. The exercises in this volume provide examples of innovative ways that mineralogy can be taught using a variety of materials and teaching techniques. We encourage you to use these activities in whatever ways will best serve your students. You may freely photocopy the exercises for class use, adopt these materials or adapt them to meet the special needs of your own course, and use these activities as models to help you develop your own new exercises.
However you use this book, please share your experiences with your colleagues and with the authors of the exercises. Being an effective teacher is not easy and we can all benefit from the experiences of others. If you would like to join an electronic mail list server discussion of mineralogy teaching, send a subscription request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that the exercises in this volume will help you find ways to make your mineralogy teaching more successful. If we prompt you to modify your classes so that your students not only learn and retain more, but also have fun in the process, we will have achieved our goals.
Table of Contents
Using Cooperative Learning to Teach Mineralogy (and Other Courses, Too!)
Physical Properties of Minerals and Determinative Techniques, An Introduction to Cooperative Learning
Mineral Classification - What's in a Name?
A Term-Long Mineralogy Lab Practical Exam
Exercises with Mineral Names, Literature and History
Short Readings from the American Mineralogist: Sneaky Tools for Teaching Scientific Reading Comprehension and Mineralogical Concepts
Wondering, Wandering and Winnowing: The WWW and Mineralogy
Crystal Growth Fast and Slow
Growing Crystals on a Microscope Stage
Mineral Synthesis and X-ray Diffraction Experiments
Making Solid Solutions with Alkali Halides (and Breaking Them)
Phase Fun with Feldspars: Simple Experiments to Change the Chemical Composition, State of Order, and Crystal System
Determination of Chemical Composition, State of Order, Molar Volume, and Density of a Monoclinic Alkali Feldspar using X-ray Diffraction
Exercises in the Geochemical Kinetics of Mineral-Water Reactions: The Rate Law and Rate-Determining Step in the Dissolution of Halite
Heat Capacity of Minerals: A Hands-on Introduction to Chemical Thermodynamics
Phase Diagrams in Vivo
Experiments on Simple Binary Mineral Systems
Computer Generated Crystals with SHAPE
Miller Indices and Symmetry Content: A Demonstration Using SHAPE, A Computer Program for Drawing Crystals
Crystal Measurement and Axial Ratio Laboratory
The Use of Natural Crystals in the Study of Crystallography
The Metrical Matrix in Teaching Mineralogy
From 2D to 3D: I. Escher Drawings, Crystallography, Crystal Chemistry, and Crystal "Defects"
From 2D to 3D: II. TEM and AFM Images
A Fun and Effective Exercise for Understanding Lattices and Space Groups
Construction of Crystal Models and Their Graphic Equivalents
Building Crystal Structure Ball Models Using Pre-drilled Templates: Sheet Structures, Tridymite and Cristobalite
Directed-Discovery of Crystal Structures Using Ball and Stick Models
Minerals and Light
Experiments in Crystal Optics
Laboratory Exercises and Demonstration with the Spindle Stage
Introduction to the SEM/EDS or "Every Composition Tells a Story"
Color in Minerals
Better Living through Minerals: X-ray Diffraction of Household Products
Asbestos: Mineralogy, Health Hazards and Public Policy
Introduction to the Properties of Clay Minerals
Mineral Separation and Provenance Lab Exercise
Selected References for Teachers of Mineralogy