Richard Harwood's Courses

Historical Geology 102

Historical Geology 102
Course Syllabus - Spring 2010

Tyrannosaurus rex - 'Sue', Field Museum, Chicago

Course Description

Study of the origin and evolution of the earth as interpreted from the evidence in rock sequences and fossils. 3 lecture hours; 2 lab hours per week. IAI: P1 907L

Class Meetings

Building 2 Room 219
11:00 - 12:15 Tuesday and Thursday
1:00 - 2:50 Tuesday Lab


Richard Harwood

Office Hours

Monday 12:00-1:00 p.m., Wednesday 12:00-1:00 p.m., Thursday 12:30 - 3:30 p.m., To arrange a meeting, talk to the instructor in class, lab or during office hours. E-mail: Click here to see Richard Harwood's schedule.

Course Schedule

Date Subject Chapter
Jan. 19 Introduction to Class: Outline, Expectations  
Jan. 21-26 Rocks and Minerals 2
Jan. 28 - Feb. 2 Plate Tectonics 7
Feb. 4-9 Geologic Time 1 & 3
Feb. 11 Open Date  
Feb. 16 EXAM I  
Feb. 18 Evolution 5
Feb. 23-25 Origin of the Earth 8
Mar. 2 Archean Eon 8
Mar. 4-9 Proterozoic Eon 9
Mar. 11 EXAM II  
Mar. 16-18 Spring Break - NO CLASSES  
Mar. 23 Paleozoic Era 10
Mar. 25 Evolution in the Paleozoic 10
Mar. 30 Mountain Building in the Mesozoic/Cenozoic 11 & 12
Apr. 1-6 Mesozoic Life 11
Apr. 8 Extinction 5
Apr. 13 Open Date  
Apr. 15 EXAM III  
Apr. 20-22 Cenozoic Volcanism 12
Apr. 27-29 Ice Ages 12
May 4-6 Human Origins 12
May 11 Open Date  
May 18 EXAM IV- 10:15 a.m.  

The schedule is subject to changes during the semester. Students are responsible for keeping track of changes. The web page schedule will be updated when changes occur.

A detailed outline of each day's topics is available at the Lecture Material links on the course web page.

Text Book - Required

Visualizing Earth History, by Babcock

Lab Manual - Required

Historical Geology 102 Lab Manual, by Richard Harwood
Mineral and Rock Identification Atlas, by Richard Harwood

Web Page Study Materials

Lecture outlines, study material, additional information, reading material and study guide questions may be found on the BHC Historical Geology Web Page under the Study Material link at the following URL:

NOTICE: It is strongly recommended that students access, print out and read the lecture notes prior to attending class.

WARNING: The web page lecture notes are intended to be used to enhance and assist students in acquiring and learning the material presented in the lectures. They are designed to allow students to follow along and contribute to lectures without the need to write everything down in notes. The web page lecture notes, however, do not contain all of the material presented in class. The web page lecture notes are not a substitute for coming to lecture - attendance is required for successful completion of the course. The web page lecture notes alone will not see you through this course without attending lecture.

Students may access the Internet at any of the open computer labs on campus. Computers are available in the Independent Learning Center, Library and the Science Resources Lab (Rm 2-210). Students do not need an account or login name to access the Internet in these labs. Assistance is available in the labs for students that have never accessed material on the World Wide Web.

Blackboard Access

Access to some of this material is password protected on myBlackHawk and Blackboard. To access this material and other online resources, login to myBlackHawk at:

Login information to myBlackHawk was provided to you when you enrolled at BHC. If you have forgotten this login information or have difficulties logging in to myBlackHawk follow the directions in the Secure Access Login box at the myBlackHawk homepage. Once into myBlackHawk go to My Courses and click on the Historical Geology course link.


There are four exams. Each exam will be comprehensive. The majority of questions, approximately 80%, will cover material from the most recent lectures, with additional questions covering major topics, concepts and definitions from the previous sections and exams. Exams may not be taken before the scheduled exam time - no exceptions.

Exam Format

Each exam may contain one or more of the following items: multiple choice questions, true/false statements, matching, fill-in-the-blank statements, short essay topics, and full length essay topics. Students should read the Essay Policy prior to taking an exam. This policy may be found at the following URL:

Missed Exams and Lab Practicals

Missed exams and lab practicals will be made up by class time the first day that the student returns to class - no exceptions. For example, let's say you miss the first exam on Thursday, Sept. 17th. You then come to the next class period on Tuesday, Sept. 22nd. You would be required to take the exam at that time, during the class period. Failure to take the exam at that time will result in a score of zero. All missed exams will be taken in the ILC's Testing Center. Students may arrange to take the exam prior to the next class period, and are encouraged to do so. Contact the ILC for Testing Room hours.

Extra Credit

There are no extra credit assignments.


The final grade will be calculated according to the following percentages:
    Exams and Practicals - 75%
    Lab Assignments - 25%

Click here to use a Grade Calculator to figure out your grade in the course.


All grades will be assigned using the following scale:
    A = 90-100%
    B = 80-89%
    C = 70-79%
    D = 60-69%
    F = <60%
No incompletes (I) will be given for any reason.

My policy on grades is that you will receive the grade that you earn. I do not "give" grades, you earn them. The grade that you earn will be based upon your knowledge of the required material, your skills in the required activities and your participation, performance and attitude.

Web Page Grade Posting

Individual grades may be accessed through the BHC Historical Geology Web Page at:
Access to your grades is password protected. See the Web Page Study Materials section above for details on your access to this information.


Daily attendance is not taken in this course. However, if you miss four lecture or lab class hours, either consecutively or cumulatively, you may be officially withdrawn from the class for non-attendance. You will be checked off for attendance on a weekly basis during lab.

Missed Classes

I am not interested in hearing excuses for missed classes. Whether you are in class or not, you are responsible for all material and announcements presented in the lecture and lab sections. It is your job to make sure you have all of the current information. Missed assignments must be turned in by class time the first day that the student returns to class - no exceptions. Missed exams and lab practicals will be made up by class time the first day that the student returns to class - no exceptions. Failure to take the exam at that time will result in a score of zero.


You are all adults and I expect you to have behavior appropriate to a college level class - this is not High School. The classroom environment should be professional and friendly. Anyone showing disruptive behavior will be asked to leave. Disruptive behavior includes but is not limited to: a) using profanities, b) intentionally damaging classroom or laboratory materials, c) using cellular phones (Cell phones are to be turned off during class, labs and exams), d) playing video games, surfing the internet or using a computer for anything other than class related activities while the instructor is addressing the class, e) placing feet on the lab table tops while class is in session, f) excessive talking while the instructor is addressing the class, and g) creating an environment that is not conducive to learning for others.

Cheating in any form will not be tolerated. Copying another's work, plagiarism and cheating on tests may be punishable by a failing grade on that assignment or exam, or a failing grade for the course - depending on the severity of the incident.

Food in the Classroom

I have no objection to your bringing food or drink into lecture or lab. However, it is your responsibility to clean up after yourself. Because other instructors and students use the classroom, don't leave your trash on the lab benches. Put all aluminum cans, plastic bottles and office paper in the proper recycling containers in the hall. Throw all other trash in the waste can in the classroom. If I find trash being left on the lab benches in lab or lecture I will ban all food and drink for everyone for the remainder of the semester.

Due Dates

You are responsible for knowing due dates and exam dates. They are on your syllabus, know them, even if they are not announced in class.

Class Preparation

I expect you to have read the lecture assignments prior to coming to class. Be prepared to discuss the material. A discussion requires at least two people that have read the material and are prepared to examine that information. A discussion with only one participant is a lecture.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to: Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to:
1) Identify and describe the formation and composition of common rocks and minerals.
2) Outline the major geologic events throughout the history of the earth.
3) Outline the major evolutionary events throughout the history of the earth.
4) Describe and illustrate the principles of relative and absolute dating.
5) Summarize the dynamics of plate tectonics.
6) Construct a geologic time scale.
7) Describe and identify basic fossil types and morphologic features.

Assessment of Student Learning

The following assessment methods, measures and techniques may be used during the semester to determine how well students are learning.

Background Knowledge Probes; Muddiest Point; Classroom Opinion Polls; Misconception/Preconception Check; Formal student evaluations; Group discussions and comments; Student research papers; Student oral presentations; Written exams; Questioning of prior material; Questioning and discussions during lab periods; Analysis of individual student's comments, questions and answers to instructor questions during the class period; Analysis of lab activities for clarity, workability and content, based on student participation, questions, assignment answers and comments in lab; Individualized tutoring for students.

Lab Schedule

Lab Date Subject
1 Jan. 19 Introduction to Lab & the Scientific Method
2 Jan. 26 Metric System, Scientific Notation, Graph Analysis
3 Feb. 2 Mineral and Igneous Rock Identification
4 Feb. 9 Sedimentary and Metamorphic Rock Identification
5 Feb. 16 Plate Tectonics
  Feb. 23 Lab Practical I
6 Mar. 2 Relative and Absolute Dating Techniques
7 Mar. 9 Fossils and Fossilization
  Mar. 16 Spring Break - NO CLASSES
8 Mar. 23 Fossil Morphology and Classification
9 Mar. 30 Evidence of Evolution
  Apr. 6 Lab Practical II
10 Apr. 13 Patterns of Evolution
11 Apr. 20 Biostratigraphic Correlation
12 Apr. 27 Dinosaur Trackways
13 May. 4 Dinosaur Evolution and Adaptation
  May 11 Lab Practical III

Lab Exercises

Lab exercises are to be completed during the lab period and turned in at the end of the lab. Students are expected to remain in lab for the full hour and fifty minutes, working on the lab assignment and studying past lab assignments.

Missed Labs

Missed labs must be completed within one week of the date of the assigned lab. For example, if you miss Lab #2, it must be complete prior to Lab #3. Labs completed before the following week's lab will receive full credit for that lab. No credit will be given for labs completed after the one week grace period. However, it is to your advantage to complete all labs, even late labs, as you will be tested over the material on the lab practical. You are responsible for making arrangements to make up a lab.

Lab Practicals

There will be three lab practicals. These are equivalent to exams and will test your knowledge and skills on the lab material. Missed lab practicals will be made up by class time the first day that the student returns to class. Failure to take the lab practical at that time will result in a score of zero.

Each lab practical will be based directly on the activities in the lab exercises. For example, in the Mineral Identification lab you will be identifying the physical properties of various minerals. On the Lab Practical, you can expect to identify the physical properties of minerals.

WARNING - For Lab Practicals I students will be required to identify mineral physical properties, rock textures, rock compositions and rock names. The Mineral and Rock Identification Atlas (as used during lab activities) will not be used during the Practicals. This means that you must know the proper terms and identifications from memory. This requires practice - lots of practice. This requires that you spend time with the rocks and minerals - more time than one viewing of the material during the lab activity. It is recommended that once you have completed a given week's lab activity, that you spend additional time in lab reviewing the previous week's materials. Failure to spend this additional time reviewing and studying the rocks and minerals will greatly increase your chances of failing the first Lab Practical.

Lab Materials

The only materials that you will need to bring are your lab manual, and writing utensils. USE A PENCIL to complete each assignment. Errors will be made and are easier to correct in pencil than in pen. The textbook should be brought to lab as well. A calculator is recommended and necessary for the completion of some lab assignments. All other materials will be provided.

A full set of mineral and rock samples, and testing equipment (excluding HCl) is available at the BHC Library's Circulation Desk. This material may only be checked for use in the library. An additional set of minerals and rocks are available in Room 210 in Building 2.

Working on Lab Assignments

Do your own work. You may work in groups or alone but you alone are responsible for knowing the material. Students often fail the lab because they let someone else do the work. You will be tested as an individual on your knowledge and skills during the lab practical - you will not be tested as a group. Do your own work.

Evaluation of Completed Lab Assignments

Lab assignments will be evaluated prior to the student being dismissed from lab. The instructor and student will go over the lab assignment together to check for errors and make corrections. Upon completion the lab will contain all the correct answers, and the student will receive credit for the lab.

Web Page Lab Supplements

Additional lab activities can be found Online. These activities include identification of minerals, igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks and metamorphic rocks. To find this material go to the URL below and click on Study Material.