GGP115 Physical Geography

for S2T 2009

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GGP 115 Physical Geography


S2T 2009 DLA


Fox, David P.


Assistant Professor of Geography


(PhD student Geography, University of Kansas)
MA Geography, University of Missouri-Columbia
BA Geography, University of Missouri-Columbia

Office Location

Parkville Campus, Findlay Wakefield Science Hall, Room 003B

Office Hours

Online T/R 11-1, F 9-11

Daytime Phone



Semester Dates

Mar. 16 - May 10, 2009

Class Days


Class Time


Credit Hours



Geosystems: An Introduction to Physical Geography, 7/E
Robert W. Christopherson, American River College

ISBN-10: 0136005985
ISBN-13: 9780136005988

Publisher: Prentice Hall
Copyright: 2009
Format: Cloth; 752 pp
Published: 02/11/2008
(Note: The 7th edition of the Geosystems textbook is highly recommended, although a 5th or 6th edition could be used for this course.)

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Additional Resources:
Use of the free version of Google Earth software is a required part of this course.  Students should go to and click on the "Download Google Earth 4.3" button (this is the version available as of 12/27/08).  Simply follow the instructions from there.  You do NOT need to install Google Chrome or any other items Google offers as a part of this download.  This should take just a few minutes to complete.

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FAQ's for Online Students - You might find the answer to your questions here.

Course Description:
GGP115 Physical Geography - Examination of the major physical elements that comprise the earths environmental surface on a global basis-water, landforms, climate, vegetation, and soil; their continuous interaction and relevance to mans occupancy of the earth on a global basis. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

"Education must, then, be not only a transmission of culture but also a provider of alternative views of the world and a strengthener of the will to explore them." -- Jerome S. Bruner  

"Education is the art of making [humans] ethical." -- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
My educational philosophy is one of interactiveness based on lectures, readings, quizzes, dialogues, examinations, internet, videos, and writings.  My goal is to create a positive, interactive, challenging, engaging, lively, and even, at times, confusing (believe it or not) classroom environment.  But my success in doing so is largely dependent upon you--your willingness to engage in class discussion, to ask questions, to share your opinions and knowledge from other learning experiences.  I believe that education is most effective when approached as a process during which the teacher and students share equally in contributing to the learning that takes place.  Rather than being the "sage on the stage" or a "fountain of wisdom" (neither of which I am), I will attempt to guide, encourage, and facilitate your learning.  Therefore, you will be expected to come to class prepared to discuss, debate, reflect on, analyze, evaluate, and question the readings and other class material every bit as much as I am.  Put simply, I believe that you will get out of this class what you put into it.

This course is designated as a Natural Science (NS) General Education course.  General Education at Park University has been defined as: "Education that develops an awareness of human potentials. It also develops proper attitudes for realizing such potentials through critical and informed judgments that foster concern for individual and social well-being. It develops a love for learning by encouraging activities that promote knowledge of the basic concepts, methodologies, and rewards of learning. It builds skills and competencies that help students acquire the distinctive outcomes defined in the university mission statement. These outcomes include open-mindedness, professionalism, and aesthetic, civic, critical, science, and values literacy. A General Education Course at Park University therefore is one that aims at meeting the definition of general education above in its discipline or area of learning. While it may emphasize the literacy of its discipline (aesthetic, civic, critical, science, or values literacy), it should develop concern for individual and social well-being, and foster open-mindedness and professionalism."  This course is designed to fulfill these guidelines and to address many of the following questions, which are expected of all GE courses:
  • Does the course identify basic vocabularies of its discipline?
  • Does the course present a historical perspective of its discipline?
  • Does the course present a diversity of concepts in its discipline?
  • Does the course promote critical thinking, computing, or communication skills?
  • Does the course clarify values of/in its discipline?
  • Does the course promote awareness of the scientific method and the impact of technology on its discipline?
  • Does the course promote civic awareness and responsibility?
  • Does the course promote understanding and appreciation of the arts?
  • Does the course promote individual expression or creativity?
  • Does the course include multicultural or global dimensions?

  • In addition, students should be aware that this course is a part of the core curriculum for all majors in the Geography Program at Park University.  As such, this course is specifically designed to meet the “Physical Systems” Program Competency, which states that our students will be able to:  

    Analyze and explain characteristics and the spatial distribution of the earth’s ecosystems and the physical processes that shape these patterns.

    In essence, this is the ultimate goal for everyone enrolled in this course.

    Note: Many of the goals and learning outcomes for this course are directly based on the National Geography Standards developed for K-16 geographic education.  See the following link for more information: NCGE National Geography Standards

      Instructor Learning Outcomes

    1. Explain the basic processes of and interactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.
    2. Evaluate geographic patterns of the earth's physical environment (soil, vegetation, climate, earthquakes, winds, etc.) that result from various processes.
    3. Assess the effects humans have on the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.
    4. Solve problems or make predictions by analyzing the physical geography of a particular place.
    Class Assessment:

    Discussions - This is a weekly requirement throughout the entire semester (weeks 1-8) and determines your participation grade. The first posting must be completed by Wednesday and a second by Saturday.  One additional post is required (i.e., a total of three) to receive the maxiumum possible score for discussions.  The postings should be related to the weekly topics, contain multiple sentences (roughly 50 words minimum), and pose questions or provide information that extends the discussion. Weekly discussions will be graded for content (quantity), relevance (quality), and timeliness, as indicated in the Grading Rubric page of the course website.

    Activities - Various learning activities given each week (up through week 6) designed to apply the concepts being learned and to assist you in preparing material for the Core Assessment.  Activities will be graded for content (quantity), relevance (quality), and timeliness, as indicated in the Grading Rubric page of the course website.

    Quizzes - Complete the quizzes for weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. The weekly quizzes are meant to check your comprehension of the material covered that week based on the stated weekly objectives.  Each quiz will consist of 20 multiple choice and/or true-false questions randomly selected from set of questions designed to align with the weekly objectives.  Although these are open book/notes, you will have a 45 minute time limit, and each quiz can only be taken once. 

    Core Assessment - Research project on the various elements of the physical geography of a selected location.  The location selected should be a place that you will be able to at least once during the course of the semester.  The project consists of gathering information from various sources (including field observations) and should be done using Microsoft PowerPoint software.  The final presentation is due by the end of week 7 (Sunday at midnight CST).  See the Core Assessment instructions (attached to this syllabus and also available in the course) for more details.

    Final Exam - This is a proctored exam (see below). You should start looking for an appropriate proctor by week 2, and your proctor form MUST be completed by week 6.  Failure to take the final exam during week 8 with an approved proctor will result in an "F."  The exam is comprehensive and will be closed book/notes.  You will have a 2 hour time limit.  The format will consist of 50 multiple choice and/or true-false questions randomly selected from the sets of questions used for the 7 weekly quizzes (thus, some of the questions may be the same, but many may not), plus 2 essay questions related to week 8 material. 
    Proctored Final Exam Requirement:
    •You must follow the Park University procedures for obtaining an approved proctor. Please refer to the Help and Resources page to review the requirements for locating a proctor and the procedure for completing a Proctor Request Form.
    •For proctored examinations, photo identification is required at the time of the test.
    •A proctor request form will be made available to you during the first week of class so that you can send your requested proctor to your instructor for approval. It will be the responsibility of the student to arrange for a proctor, who is accepted and approved by the course instructor, by the 6th week of the term.
    •Approval of proctors is at the discretion of the Online instructor.
    •Failure to take a final proctored exam will result in an automatic "F" grade.













    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8





    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6





    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7




    Core Assessment





    Final Exam





    Total Points for Term = 1000 

    Final Course Grading Scale:

    A = 1000 - 900 points (100% - 90%) 
    B = 899 - 800 points (89% - 80%) 
    C = 799 - 700 points (79% - 70%) 
    D = 699 - 600 points (69% - 60%) 
    F = 599 - 0 points (59% - 0%) 

    Late Submission of Course Materials:
    Assignments will be accepted up to one week after their due date, but will be penalized as indicated in the grading rubric or 10% per day if not specified in the rubric. Students may NOT make up quizzes or exams missed because of an unexcused absence.  If you have arranged for or been granted an excused absence by the instructor, then you must submit the work by the alternate date arranged with the instructor.  Failure to do so may result in a 10% deduction per day after the alternate due date.

    Classroom Rules of Conduct:
    · Class participation is considered an essential part of the learning process.  Part of your course grade specifically consists of your participation in weekly class discussions and activities that can only be done if you are "present"--i.e., log into the course website (exceptions will only be made for those students who have properly submitted documentation for an excused absence).  Also, be aware that the instructor is required to submit attendance for each class period and that the Park University attendance policy will be strictly followed.  This policy states that any student who has two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences will be administratively withdrawn.  

    · The instructor strives to create an informal and non-threatening classroom environment for class discussion.  Since this is an educational forum, the instructor expects each student to act accordingly.  Therefore, students will be expected to treat fellow students and the instructor with respect.  Disrespectful behavior toward another student or the instructor will not be tolerated, and the offending student will be warned only once by the instructor (via e-mail).  Any further incidents will result in a zero for the week's discussion grade and may be grounds for further administrative action as allowed by the Park University student code of conduct.

    · All students will be held accountable for any material presented or discussed or through assigned readings.  It is the responsibility of the student to obtain all materials and information missed during a class session, regardless of whether or not the absence is excused by the instructor.  Failure on the part of the student to acquire missed information – for any reason (excused or unexcused absence, etc.) – will not excuse the student from questions over that material on any assessment activity (quiz, final exam, Core Assessment project, etc.).

    · Computers make writing and revising much easier and more productive.  However, students must recognize that technology can also be problematic.  Students are expected to be responsible for planning ahead and meeting deadlines in spite of technological problems that may be encountered.  Therefore, computer problems will NOT automatically be considered grounds for having late work excused.  Be sure to save copies of your work to both a disk and your computer hard drive and print extra paper copies for backup purposes.

    · Repeated failure to adhere to any of these guidelines for classroom conduct may result in a deduction of one letter grade to the student's final grade for each occurrence after the instructor has discussed the issue with the student.

    Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

    Week 1
    (Mar. 16-22)


    1: Essentials of Geography

    2: Solar Energy to Earth


     Introduction, Discussion, Activity, Quiz

    Week 2
    (Mar. 23-29)


    3: Earth's Modern Atmosphere

    4: Atmosphere & Surface Energy Balance

    5: Global Temperatures


     Discussion, Activity, Quiz
    Week 3
    (Mar. 30-Apr. 5)


    6: Atmospheric & Oceanic Circulations

    9: Water Resources

    7: Water & Atmospheric Moisture


     Discussion, Activity, Quiz
    Week 4
    (Apr. 6-12)


    8: Weather

    10: Global Climate Systems


     Discussion, Activity, Quiz
    Week 5
    (Apr. 13-19)


    11: The Dynamic Planet

    12: Tectonics, Earthquakes, & Volcanism

    13: Weathering, Karst Landscapes, & Mass Movement


     Discussion, Activity, Quiz
    Week 6
    (Apr. 20-26)


    14: River Systems & Landforms

    15: Eolian Processes & Arid Landscapes

    16: Coastal Processes & Landforms


     Discussion, Activity, Quiz
    Week 7
    (Apr. 27-May 3)


    17: Glacial & Periglacial Processes & Landforms

    18: Geography of Soils

    19: Ecosystem Essentials


     Discussion, Quiz, Core Assessment
    Week 8
    (May 4-10)


    20: Terrestrial Biomes

    21: Earth & the Human Denominator


     Discussion, Final Exam

    Academic Honesty:
    Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

    Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87
    Students may receive a zero (i.e, NO credit) for any assignment that has violated the Academic Honesty and Plagiarism policies in any way.  In addition, the student may be reported to the Dean for any additional disciplinary action that is deemed appropriate by the university.

    Attendance Policy:
    Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

    1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
    2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
    3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
    4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
    5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
    6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.
    ONLINE NOTE: An attendance report of "P" (present) will be recorded for students who have logged in to the Online classroom at least once during each week of the term. Recording of attendance is not equivalent to participation. Participation grades will be assigned by each instructor according to the criteria in the Grading Policy section of the syllabus.

    Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90

    Disability Guidelines:
    Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .

    Core Assessment Instructions

    Core Assessment Rubric


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    Last Updated:3/9/2009 11:12:18 AM