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A Strategy for Teaching an Effective Undergraduate Mineralogy Course

A Strategy for Teaching an Effective Undergraduate Mineralogy Course

An effective undergraduate mineralogy course provides students with a familiarity and understanding of minerals that is necessary for studying the Earth. This paper describes a strategy for integrating the disparate topics covered in a mineralogy course and for presenting them in a way that facilitates an understanding of mineralogy that enables students to apply it in subsequent courses and research. The course is organized into a well-integrated sequence of lectures, demonstrations and laboratory exercises that unfolds the material logically and at a pace that is responsive to the students� needs. The course begins with six weeks on crystal chemistry, then five weeks covering analytical methods for characterizing minerals and ends with five weeks on the silicates. This order facilitates a progression of learning from the basic concepts to the more advanced and allows us to reinforce the concepts of crystal chemistry during the final section on the silicates. Optical mineralogy is almost entirely taught in the lab and is aided by use of a mineral identification chart developed to help students learn to identify minerals in thin section. Student performance is assessed through...

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