GGP115 Physical Geography

for SP 2012

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Mission Statement: Park University provides access to a quality higher education experience that prepares a diverse community of learners to think critically, communicate effectively, demonstrate a global perspective and engage in lifelong learning and service to others.

Vision Statement: Park University, a pioneering institution of higher learning since 1875, will provide leadership in quality, innovative education for a diversity of learners who will excel in their professional and personal service to the global community.


GGP 115 Physical Geography


SP 2012 HO


Fox, David P.


Assistant Professor of Geography


(PhD candidate [ABD], Geography, University of Kansas)
MA, Geography, University of Missouri (2001)
BA, Geography, University of Missouri (1993)

Office Location

Parkville Campus, Findlay-Wakefield Science Hall (SC), Room 004

Office Hours

-MTWR-- 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM

Daytime Phone



Web Page

Semester Dates

Jan. 16 - May 13

Class Days

Lecture: -M-W-F-, Lab: Monday

Class Time

Lecture: 10:00 - 10:50 AM, Lab: 1:30 - 4:20 PM



Credit Hours



Elemental Geosystems (6th Edition, 2010) by Robert W. Christopherson
Pearson/Prentice Hall Publishers
ISBN: 9780321595218

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

See the Webliography page in our course eCompanion website for additional internet resources that may be posted throughout the semester:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information

Course Description:
GGP115 Physical Geography (MGE; Science w/lab) - Examination of the major physical element process, and patterns that comprise the earth's four major spheres (atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere) and their continuous interaction and relevance to human occupancy of the earth on a global basis. Laboratory exercises will reinforce and extend course concepts. 3:3:4

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 to encourage student engagement through the use of open "lecture" and discussion sessions.  While the use of PowerPoint presentations will most often be used as a primary means of guiding the lecture and discussion direction of each class period, you are strongly encouraged and expected to actively participate by raising questions, contributing your own personal knowledge or perspectives from previous learning experiences, commenting on related topics that were mentioned in the assigned textbook or any additional reading material, and constantly challenging your fellow classmates, as well as the instructor, to clarify any inconsistencies, overgeneralizations, or downright incorrect made in their comments and observations.  Readings, lectures, demonstrations, discussions, internet resources, videos, writings, group activities, field work, mapping, Socratic seminars, quizzes, and examinations are common activities that may be utilized.  My goal, therefore, is to create a positive, interactive, challenging, engaging, lively, and even potentially confusing (believe it or not) classroom environment.  But my success in doing so is largely dependent upon you.  Your willingness to engage in all learning opportunities, think critically, ask questions, and share your knowledge and perspectives is ultimately what will make this a meaningful and successful course, not only for yourself, but for all of us.
This course is approved to fulfill one of your Natural Science (NS) Multicultural General Education (MGE)--or Liberal Education (LE) for new Park students--Science with a Lab requirements.  General/Liberal 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."  Therefore, this course is designed to fulfill these guidelines and to address many of the following questions, which are expected of all GE/LE 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?
  • Finally, you should be aware that this course is a part of the core/required curriculum for the BS degree in Geography from 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.

      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:


      You are always expected to attend and actively participate in every class session by asking questions, contributing personal experiences or observations, etc.  On at least eight (8) unannounced occasions, you will receive grade credit on the basis of your participation in discussion-related learning activities.  Usually this will require making a written summary of your thoughts and reactions to the material presented/discussed during the class session.  Some discussion activities may require use of the eCompanion website outside of the regular class period.  Discussion activities must be completed on the day they given and may not be made up unless you have provided appropriate documentation for an excused absence for the class session (such as participation in an approved university event).  Each student will be allowed only ONE make-up opportunity for a missed discussion activity.

    Quizzes: Seven (7) quizzes will be given during the regular course of the semester. Each quiz will consist of approximately 15 multiple choice and/or true-false questions--some of which may be map-based questions. Quizzes will usually be completed online on the course eCompanion website ( and will be completed outside of the regularly scheduled class time. Unless otherwise announced in class, quizzes must be completed by Sunday night (no later than 11:59 PM, CST) of the week that it is assigned. Quizzes will be time-limited to 30 minutes.

    Research Project:  A research project involving the investigation of the various elements of the physical geography of a selected location will be assigned.  The areal size of the location may vary rather widely--for example, from your backyard to a block-sized city park to a several thousand acre state park.  The most important factor in choosing a location, though, is that it should be a place that you will be able to regularly collect information about and to personally visit at least once during the course of the semester in order to gather some basic field data.  The project consists of gathering information from a variety of sources, including field observations.  Specific instructions and requirements for the project will be available in the course eCompanion Doc Sharing page.

    Final Exam (Core Assessment): The Final Exam will serve as the "Core Assessment" for this course and will include many questions that are comprehensive in nature. The Final Exam will consist of 60 multiple choice and/or true-false questions and will be closed book/notes.  The Final Exam MUST be taken during the assigned period (see schedule below), unless arrangments are made at least one week IN ADVANCE by the student.
    Lab Assignments – A variety of exercises will be presented and assigned each week during the designated lab period (Mondays, 1:30-4:20 PM).  Lab assignments are designed to apply and extend the concepts being learned in the “lecture” component of the course.  Usually the assignments will align with the material being covered in lecture for the week, but Several may involve the use of Google Earth, as well as a variety of other resources.  Note: Although the total number of exercises and points awarded for those exercises will vary, your scores from each week's set of assigned exercises will be compiled as one "lab assignment" score and each will be equally weighted in the calculation of your final grade for the course. 


    % OF GRADE
    Discussions (8 @ 1.25% each)
    Quizzes (7 @ 4.5% each)
    Research Project (1 @ 7%)


    Final Exam [Core Assessment] (1 @ 20%)
    Lab Assignments (14 @ 2.25% each)
    The course grade is determined by weighting the number of points earned for each assessment based on the above percentages.  Final grades will be based on the following percentage cutoffs:
    100-90% = A
    89-80% = B
    79-70% = C
    69-60% = D
    59-0%= F

    Late Submission of Course Materials:

    All assessments (assignments, quizzes, etc.) for the lecture session are expected to be fully completed and submitted by the announced due date and time.  Any work completed and/or submitted after the announced deadline may not be accepted for grading.  The instructor reserves the right to determine whether or not late work will be accepted and how much of a grade reduction penalty is appropriate depending upon the rationale for the student's lateness and whether or not he/she appropriately notified the instructor in advance of the deadline (or as soon as reasonably possible in the event of an emergency/unforeseen circumstance) with any appropriate documentation that may be requested by the instructor for verification purposes. Typically a 10-20% grade reduction penalty may be assessed for late work that is submitted within 1-2 weeks of the announced deadline, and only half credit (i.e., a 50% grade reduction penalty) is allowed for assignments over 2 weeks late.

    Classroom Rules of Conduct:

    Make class time your first priority
    .  Notify the instructor as soon as possible if you have an emergency situation that would require a deadline extension.

    Treat fellow students and the instructor with RESPECT.  Disrespectful comments or behavior will not be tolerated.  The offending student(s) may be asked to leave the classroom by the instructor and will NOT receive credit for any assignments given/due during the time that the student has been dismissed from the class session.  Repeated occurrences of such behavior will 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 in class 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 will not excuse the student from questions over that material on any assessment activity (quiz, exam, assignment, etc.).
    You will be expected to use the eCollege website for the course:  Students are expected to notify the instructor in advance of the due date of any questions or concerns accessing or using this technology.

    You are expected to be responsible for planning ahead and meeting deadlines in spite of any 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 OFTEN and in multiple locations for backup purposes. 
    NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, plagiarize.  Always follow and abide by the university's policies on academic honesty and freedom.

    Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

    (The Instructor reserves the right to amend this schedule based on the progress of the course and the needs of the students.)

    Ch. 1: Essentials of Geography
    Ch. 2: Solar Energy, Seasons, and the Atmosphere
    Lab Assignment #1
    Quiz #1
    3 Ch. 3: Atmospheric Energy & Global Temperatures Lab Assignment #2
    Ch. 4: Atmospheric & Oceanic Circulations
    Lab Assignment #3
    Quiz #2
    Ch. 5: Atmospheric Water & Weather
    Lab Assignment #4
    Ch. 6: Water Resources
    Lab Assignment #5
    Quiz #3
    Ch. 7: Climate Systems & Climate Change
    Lab Assignment #6
    Ch. 8: The Dynamic Planet
    Ch. 9: Tectonics, Earthquakes, & Volcanoes
    Lab Assignment #7
    Quiz #4
    9 No classes (SPRING BREAK)
    10 Ch. 10: Weathering, Karst Landscapes, & Mass Movement Lab Assignment #8
    Ch. 11: River Systems & Landforms
    Lab Assignment #9
    Quiz #5
    Ch. 12: Wind Processes & Desert Landscapes
    Lab Assignment #10
    Ch. 13: The Oceans, Coastal Processes, & Landforms
    Lab Assignment #11
    Quiz #6
    Ch. 14: Glacial & Periglacial Landscapes;
    Ch. 15: The Geography of Soils
    Lab Assignment #12
    Ch. 16: Ecosystems & Biomes
    Lab Assignment #13
    Quiz #7
    Ch. 17: Earth & the Human Denominator
    Lab Assignment #14
    Research Project due
    17 (Finals) Final Exam period = Monday, May 7, 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM Final Exam (CA)

    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 students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93
    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.

    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. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

    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.

    Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 96

    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: .

    Additional Information:



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    Last Updated:1/16/2012 7:19:37 PM