Vince/ TeacherCollab/ 1405-TA-Notes-FirstLab.html

TA Notes, First Lab (Tectonics), 1405 The Dynamic Earth, Fall 2018

This information is confidential, intended only for the Geology 1405 teachers
Revised 8:00 PM, 26 August 2018

Before the lab begins...

You need to be in the lab room early if the lab is going to start on-time. If you start late, students will get in the habit of arriving late.

Direct students to put their coats, backpacks, longboards or other paraphernalia that is not essential for the lab along the edges of the lab room. Keep the emergency exit clear.

As the students are coming into the classroom, consolidate them into groups of ~3-5 folks around a given table. When all the students are in the room, the groups should have approximately equal numbers of students in them.

Also as students enter the lab room, give them a copy of the two items they are to read, legibly fill-in the blanks, and sign. One has to do with acknowledging lab rules, and the other is a photo release that allows me to take photos in the lab room that might be used for presentations or publications (et cetera).

The Teacher's Lab Outline

Get through the introductory stuff with all deliberate speed
so that students have enough time to complete the lab activities.
  1. When the start time of the lab is reached, introduce yourself as the teacher of this lab section.
    1. Tell them your name. Write it on the board.
    2. Briefly tell them about your academic degree(s) and geoscience background. The purpose of this is to assure them that you are qualified to serve as their teacher in lab this semester.
    3. Briefly tell them why you are at Baylor (e.g., "I am working with Dr. Smith on a project to better understand groundwater pollution for my Masters degree in geology.")

  2. Welcome them to your lab and tell them that you look forward to helping them learn about geology.

  3. Then introduce the lab coordinator (Dr. Cronin) for a few comments,if he is there. If he is not there, channel your best Vince Cronin imitation and cover the following with your students.
    1. Your TA is your ally in this course, so seek his/her help if you need it. However, they are busy people who are also taking their own classes and conducting research, so be very protective of their time and don't abuse your access to them.
    2. Your safety in this laboratory is your responsibility alone. (That is the ONLY statement you are to make with respect to safety, and you are to use that wording EXACTLY.)
    3. If there are any health or safety concerns, or injuries sustained in the lab, you need to make the TA aware of them immediately.
    4. If you have any problems related to this lab that your TA cannot help you with, please contact me at, or drop by and see me in my cave: BSB E-441. You can also contact Sharon Browning, who is the coordinator of introductory Geoscience labs. Her office is in BSB E-408 and email is
    5. I am particularly interested, when we start using the lab book next week, in any aspects of the lab book that you find to be a problem. (and so on)
    6. The lab for 1405 has a home page online at
      The lab syllabus is also available online at
      It is your responsibility to read and understand what is in the lab syllabus.

  4. Now that the teachers have introduced themselves, invite/direct the students to introduce themselves within their groups. Tell them that their responsibility is not only to introduce themselves, but also to LISTEN to the other students and LEARN something about each of them. Have them tell each other the following:
    1. their name
    2. where they are from
    3. how long they have been at Baylor
    4. what they are studying, or hope to study, at Baylor. In other words, what are their major(s) or minor(s)
    5. maybe some fun fact about them
    Give them a time limit of no more than 2 minutes per person. Circulate among groups and listen to what is going on.
    When it seems that all have had a chance to speak, pick on a person at each table to introduce some other person at their table.

  5. When the introductions within the groups is done, PLEASE make the following 3 points
    1. This lab is a cooperative learning environment.
      Cooperation, not competition.
      Each of us is responsible to help anyone around us who seems to be struggling and needs help.
    2. If YOU need help, please ask. Ask your group mates. Ask the TA. But DO ask.
    3. When you come into lab each week, make a point of sitting next to someone you don't know. Don't just sit with folks you do know, even though that might be the most comfortable thing to do. Learning in college is more about allowing yourself to be uncomfortable and trying new things than about being comfortable and not challenging yourself.

  6. Some general announcements about the lab
    1. It is absolutely essential that you come to lab prepared. By that, I mean primarily two things:
      1. You have read the entire lab introduction before coming to lab, and are generally familiar with the lab activities. Do Not work on the lab activities prior to lab.
      2. You have brought your copy of the lab book, a pencil, a ruler with a metric scale (cm, mm), an inexpensive scientific calculator or a sufficiently charged smartphone with a calculator app, and whatever is listed in the "Items You Must Bring to Lab" part of the lab schedule on the lab syllabus.
    2. We will have a brief post-lab quiz during the last 10 minutes of the lab period to see if you have understood the main points in the lab.
    3. Labs will take the entire 2-hour lab period.
    4. The lab syllabus is available through the lab homepage online, and can be changed throughout the semester. Bookmark the link so that you can stay updated:
    5. You need to bring your very own copy of the lab textbook to every lab meeting. You will write your responses to the lab exercises on the pages of that lab book, put your name on them, tear them out and submit them for credit at the end of the lab. No photocopies of the lab book will be accepted for credit.

  7. Announcements specific to this lab.
    1. The goals of this first lab are
      1. to make sure you can find the lab room (congratulations)
      2. to familiarize you with how the labs are structured for this course
      3. to learn some useful basics
        • Activity 1.2, part A only
        • Activity 1.3
        • Activity 1.4, part B only
        • Activity 1.6, parts D, E, and F
    2. Everyone seated at a given table should work on the same activity at the same time, for about 20 minutes. Students can and should talk with each other about the activity, but when it comes to filling-out the activity sheet the work they hand-in for credit must be their own work. In other words, students need to think about the activity and supply their own best answers — they must not simply copy the responses of any other student.
    3. Make a very brief statement about what each of the groups will be working on during the first time period. For example, "the people in this group (point to the table) will be plotting the locations of earthquakes in a subduction zone on a vertical cross section, and the people in this group (point to another table) will be..."
    4. Tell them to begin their work.

  8. With 10 minutes left in the lab session (or when everyone has finished the activities), administer the post-lab survey. Announce that this post-lab survey is to be completed by each student individually, without assistance from any other student. It is a closed-book, closed-note quiz.

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