About the Course

Welcome to the Geomorphology class web page for Fall 2018. Please check this site weekly for announcement and links to web sites specific to that week’s topic covered in class and lab. The links will lead you to data, readings and other information that is required to be completed before class. The links and readings will also greatly help in your decision of a research topic. See below (Class Notes) for course logistics.

Introduction: Earth scientists are increasingly called upon to evaluate past, present and future environmental changes on both local and global scales. They can be called upon to predict the long-term stability of hazardous waste sites or to mitigate the effects of natural disasters. Vital to evaluating and predicting environmental change is an understanding of the origin and evolution of topographic features and the role of groundwater in the environment. Geomorphology is concerned with the evolution of landscapes and the earth surface processes that form and modify them.

Since the land surface is located at the interface of the earth’s lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere, geomorphology is necessarily interdisciplinary. In addition to the natural forces modifying landscapes, anthropogenic forces significantly contribute to surface modification and influence water quality and quantitiy.

Course Goals: Specific Learning Goals are to deepen your understanding in and to think critically about:

1 – surficial geologic processes and the origin of landscapes.

2 – the methods of and limitations of field data collected to investigate fluvial, groundwater and glacial geomorphic systems.

3 – the role of the geomorphologist and hydrogeologists in understanding and planning for hazards, landscape restoration, and environmental quality.

4 – the significance of anthropogenic (human-caused) changes in natural and built landscapes.


Instructor: Greg Wiles, Scovel 119, office hours are posted outside my office door – I will have drop-in hours 1:30-2:30 Thursday and Friday. x-2298

Teaching Assistant: We don’ have one this semester however, Nick Wiesenberg (Dept. Technician) will come with us on most field exercises to be sure the equipment works.

Class Notes

Preparation questions: At the beginning of each class I will post  two or three preparation questions that should be answered before the start of the next class.  A complete set of questions will be available on this web page if you need to miss a class.

Field trips: Many of our labs will involve fieldwork. Some of the scheduled trips may be changed depending on weather and streamflow. It is your responsibility to inform me of conflicts between academic commitments to this course and complementary programs in which you participate as soon as you are aware of them.  You are to discuss with me how you might fulfill your academic commitments to our mutual satisfaction without sacrificing the academic integrity and rigor of the course.

When we are in the field you will need to wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing (rain gear, fleece, hat, gloves etc.) – if you come to a gravel pit in flip-flops you will not be allowed access. Always bring a notebook (provided) and pencil or pen for notes and it is a good idea to bring a camera. I will hand out field notebooks in class or you are welcome to use your own. You will be invited to the course Dropbox where materials will be provided for labs and where you can upload photos and data collected.

Labs: We will meet weekly for laboratory on Monday afternoons. On occasion we will convene in the GIS Lab (Scovel 305), Scovel 116 or go to the field for the lab period. Field excursions may be rescheduled as needed depending on the weather and stream levels. Labs are due at the beginning of the following lab period unless otherwise noted. Late labs will not be accepted.

Research field project: A field or data – based project will be due toward the end of the semester (see due dates in the grading and evaluation sections). The timetable for topic selection, submission of outline, and presentation of results will be announced and listed on this syllabus. You are required to hand in research plan of your project this is worth 15% of the course grade. You will also give a short presentation on the results of your project on 21 November during the lab period.

Course Policies:

(1) Attendance is required.  As a student, you have the responsibility to inform the faculty member of potential conflicts as soon as you are aware of them, and to discuss and work with the faculty member to identify alternative ways to fulfill your academic commitments without sacrificing the academic integrity and rigor of the course.

 (2) Class or Field Safety.  As needed, a list of safety rules will be established at the beginning of specific class sessions.  Failure to adhere to these rules may result in injury to the student breaking the rules or to other students in the course.  Please follow these rules, because they are meant entirely for your safety.  Also, remember that there is no substitute for common sense in the class setting, especially if we are using tools and other equipment around water, occasionally when on fieldtrips we will need to wear hardhats. It is a good idea to wear boots for all trips – I will have an assortment of rubber boots.

 (3) Academic Dishonesty.  We will adhere to the College of Wooster’s policy on Academic Honesty and the Code of Academic Integrity.  Please know that I take this policy very seriously.  In following the College of Wooster’s policy, we will use the suggested syllabus statement: The academic program at the College seeks to promote the intellectual development of each student and the realization of that individual’s potential for creative thinking, learning, and understanding.  In achieving this, each student must learn to use his / her mind rigorously, independently, and imaginatively.

The College’s understanding and expectations in regard to issues of academic honesty are fully articulated in the Code of Academic Integrity as published in the Scot’s Key and form an essential part of the implicit contract between the student and the College. The Code provides a framework at Wooster to help students develop and exhibit honesty in their academic work.  You are expected to know and abide by the rules of the institution as described in The Scot’s Key and the Handbook of Selected College Policies (http://www.wooster.edu/Academics/Academic-Affairs/Academic-Policies).

Dishonesty in any of your academic work is a serious breach of the Code of Academic Integrity and is grounds for an “F” for the entire course.  Such violations include turning in another person’s work as your own, copying from any source without proper citation, crossing the boundary of what is allowed in a group project, submitting an assignment produced for a course to a second course without the authorization of all the instructors, and lying in connection with your academic work. You will be held responsible for your actions. Particular attention should be directed to the appropriate use of materials available through the Internet.  Whether intentional or not, improper use of materials is a violation of academic honesty.  If you are unsure as to what is permissible, please contact your course instructor.

(4) Grading Policy and Scale.  Your grade will be calculated as follows:

Course evaluation: There will be three exams, two midterms and one comprehensive final. About 8-10 quizzes will also be given; students not attending lectures when quizzes are given will receive a zero. I will drop the lowest quiz grades. This pdf is a compilation of the rubrics and expectations of the projects, papers and labs. Use the rubrics as a checklist for each task you do in this class.

Quizzes about 10 of them 10%
Lab Exercises and Field Reports 20%
Class Participation 5%
Project proposal
Project presentation
20% combined
Project due 2 December
Exams 45%

(5) Late Policy.  The ability to produce quality work in a timely fashion is a hallmark of professionalism in any discipline – science, business, education, etc.  Consequently, points will be deducted from your final grade for any assignment turned in after a deadline without prior permission.  Generally, homework assigned will be due at the beginning of a designated class session.  Do not wait until the due date has arrived or already passed to request an extension.  I will not accept late labs.

Exceptions to this policy will be made only in extraordinary circumstances.  Accordingly, you must learn to budget your time so that you complete your assignments before they are due.  Be aware of the possibility of equipment failure (e.g., computer crashes, printer issues) when scheduling your work so that you are not left scrambling at the last minute.  My most important suggestion for avoiding a late penalty is to work on exercises immediately after they are assigned.  Do not procrastinate and begin to work on an exercise the day before it is due.

  (6) Learning Center and Learning Disabilities.  The Learning Center (ext. 2595) offers services designed to help students improve their overall academic performance.  Sessions are structured to promote principles of effective learning and academic management.  Any student on campus may schedule sessions at the Learning Center. They offer a variety of services and accommodations to students with learning disabilities based on appropriate documentation, nature of disability, and academic need.  In order to initiate services, students should meet with Pam Rose, Director of the Learning Center at the start of the semester to discuss reasonable accommodations.  If a student does not request accommodations or does not provide documentation, I am under no obligation to provide accommodations.  You may contact the Learning Center at ext. 2595 or through email at prose@wooster.edu.

 (7) Title IX Reporting Policy: In accordance with Title IX, faculty who become aware of any incident of sexual violence are required by law to notify the College of Wooster’s Title IX Coordinator. For more information about your rights and reporting options at Wooster, including confidential and anonymous reporting options, please visit this website for details.

 (8) No laptops or phones turned on in class – unless I authorize it.




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