Fall, 2015
Instructor: Ms. M. Jean Hetherington
Instructor’s Office: PS 135
Office Hours: MW 1:00-2:00, TTh 12:30-1:30
Phone: (925) 969-4202
Email: [email protected]
Section 1513 TTh 11:00-12:20
The class meets in PS 109. Three units
Text: Physical Geology by Plummer, 14th edition (ISBN-13: 978-0073369389) is required.
Webpage: All class information, including homework and reading assignments, and study guides for the exams will be
distributed using the course webpage, at
Course Description: Geology 120 is the first course required for geology majors, but is also suitable for committed
non-majors who want a deeper understanding and appreciation of the processes that shape the Earth. English 122 and
Math 90 (formerly Math 110) or high school algebra are highly recommended pre-requisites. Without a basic
understanding of the following subject areas, you may need extra help and study time to succeed in this class:
comprehensive, college-level reading and writing ability; basic algebra, geometry and chemistry.
This course transfers to UC and CSU and satisfies the requirement for Introductory Physical Geology for geology
majors, as well as the GE science requirement (CSU GE area B-1).
Geology 122 is the laboratory class that accompanies Geology 120 (required for geology majors and CSU GE area
B-3). If you intend to take the lab, it is best, but not required, to do so concurrently.
Student Learning Outcomes/Course Objectives: At a minimum, students completing this course will be able to:
1. Use basic vocabulary particular to the science of geology
2. Describe how geology relates to the other physical sciences, especially physics and chemistry
3. Apply the principles of the Scientific Method
4. Explain the basic Earth processes listed in the content section of the Course Outline
5. Explain processes involved in plate tectonics as they relate to a dynamic Earth
6. Recognize that our understanding of the Earth is constantly changing and being refined as new data become
available, new technologies are developed and new lines of thought arise.
7. Give examples of how geologic processes influence human activity
Time Required: You should put in a minimum of six (6) hours PER WEEK of study in geology outside of class for an
average grade of C. Each student will need to put in more or less time, depending on his or her background and study
techniques. If you are struggling, please see me for help. Grades are earned by the student, not “awarded” by the
instructor. Take responsibility for your success!
Exams: There will be three midterms and one final exam. Exams consist of multiple-choice questions and written
responses, and are closed book and closed notes. Questions will be taken directly from assigned homework, reading
and from lecture. Written responses will be graded for clarity of writing as well as geologic accuracy. Every student
should be able to successfully answer any question on an exam that was assigned as homework. Do the homework!!
You will need four (4) Scantron 882-E forms, one for each exam. They can be purchased in the Book Center.
If you are to be absent on the day of a midterm, you must notify the instructor BEFORE the exam in order to be eligible
for a make-up. Documented medical necessity or emergency hardship (as determined by the instructor) is the only
reasonable excuse for missing a midterm. Make-ups are essay format. There is no make-up for the final. NO EARLY
FINALS WILL BE ALLOWED. The final covers the last several weeks of the course, as well as selected portions of
the entire course. A brief study guide will be provided for each exam.
There will also be eight (8) multiple-choice quizzes, given at the start of class on most Tuesdays during non-midterm
weeks. See the Assignment Sheet for quiz dates. You will need eight (8) Scantron 2020 forms, also available for
purchase in the Book Center. Quiz questions will come from the material covered in class the day before the quiz, and
from the multiple choice questions assigned as homework. The lowest quiz score will be dropped. There are no makeups for quizzes (Be on time!).
Presentation: Each student has the option to give a detailed and well-prepared 15 minute presentation to the class sometime during the
semester, as a replacement for either the second or third midterm. This will give you an opportunity to explore something of interest
that you can share with the class. Suggestions include:
1. a geologic item in the news (having to do with CA),
2. a trip in CA that you have taken where you encountered something of geologic interest, or
3. a place in CA that has geology you’d like to know more about
More specific information about the presentation will be provided in Week 2.
Homework: Homework consists of weekly reading assignments and questions assigned from the required text.
Though questions have been assigned, written homework will not be collected or graded. Even though you are not
required to hand in written homework, it is imperative that you write out answers to the assigned questions on your
own, and then study that material. Many midterm questions will be taken directly from the questions you are assigned.
If you aren’t sure your answers are correct, come to office hours and I will proof read your answers. Or, ask questions
in class.
Attendance and Participation: You are expected to attend all lectures for the entire period. If you miss class, do not ask
me what you missed. Ask a fellow student if they will share their class notes. You are expected to have read the
assigned chapter before coming to class and be prepared to answer questions and discuss the material. I will call on
you from time to time to answer questions. If your response is “I don’t know” too many times, then you are obviously
not preparing or participating. This will not help you succeed in the class.
Class is for active learning, not sleeping, texting, gaming, passing notes or chatting with your friends. If I see you
doing things other than being involved in the class (my discretion), I will ask you to stop. If you persist, I will ask you
to leave. I will then remember to lower your grade in the class. Excessive coming and going from the classroom is
disruptive to me and other students, and will not be tolerated. Points will be deducted from your midterm(s) if I see
you using your cell in class at any time. You may use a computer in class for note taking, only. Taking photos in class
is never allowed. Points from your final grade will be deducted for violations.
Your participation grade will be based on regular attendance, being on time, answering and asking questions in class,
adhering to course rules and requirements, and being fully engaged and involved during each class period.
Please arrive to class on time. If you must arrive late, please take a seat, quietly, near the door. Any in-class work that
has already been completed cannot be made up. You are responsible for all announcements made in class or on the
class webpage. Food is not allowed in class. Appropriate beverages are ok, but the first spill ends the privilege.
Dropping: I will only drop a student if they fail to show up on the first day of class or on census day. After that,
dropping is your responsibility. See the list of important dates at the bottom of the syllabus.
Grading: The percentages for course work are listed below. There is no extra credit, so please don’t ask. Do the
assigned work during the semester to avoid the need for extra credit.
Quizzes/in-class assignments
3 midterms/presentation
45% (15% each)
1 final exam
Letter grades are assigned as follows: A=90-100%, B=80-89%, C=65-79%, D=55-64%, F=below 55%
Cheating: Please talk about the course material with other students outside of class. But, when you do an assignment,
it must be your work and not copied from another student or from the text. If you copy, you will not receive credit for
the assignment. Exams given in class are to be completed by you, only. Cheating on exams in any form will result in a
zero for the exam, no exceptions. First offense is a warning. The second offense results in an “F” in the course. See
the college catalogue for a full description of cheating and the code of conduct. DON’T DO IT.
Important Dates:
Last day to add
Last day to drop, no record
Last day to select P/NP
Last day to drop with “W”
Last regular class meeting:
Aug. 28
Sep. 4
Sep. 11
Nov. 20
Dec. 10
If you are still enrolled in class at the end of the first week, it is understood that you have read this syllabus and have
agreed to abide by its contents.