Geology of the National Parks

Overview of Course Assignments


Overview of Course Assignments

Your grade in GEOSC 10 is based on the following requirements.

"StudentsSpeak" Surveys

Surveys are a useful tool for getting feedback from you about the big ideas presented each week, and we use them to introduce topics that may help you on the quizzes. The Monday that each unit opens, you will see a StudentsSpeak survey appear in that week's module in Canvas. Each survey is typically just five or so brief right or wrong answers, just an opportunity for us to "hear" what you think about the upcoming topics of study.

Since there are 12 units of study, there is a total of 12 surveys. You are required to complete 10 out of the 12. Each is worth 1% of your final grade (for a total of 10%). (You are welcome to complete all 12 surveys because we do care what you think, but there is no extra credit for doing more than 10.)

"RockOn" Quizzes

At the end of each unit, you will be required to take an end-of-unit quiz (a "RockOn" quiz) that covers the readings, lecture and multimedia components of that unit. You have only one chance to take each quiz, and they are timed. They are also "open book/note." Each quiz will "appear" in the appropriate Canvas Module at the date/time indicated on the course calendar. They appear at 12 a.m. on Thursday and will "disappear" (close) on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Since this relies on technology, we strongly recommend that you plan to take the quiz early in the time period provided, so that if you encounter any technical problems, they can be resolved in time. Note that quizzes "auto-submit" when the allocated time is up (e.g., at the end of 30 minutes for a 30-minute quiz). The quizzes really do close at 11:59 p.m., so, if you start to take a quiz at 11:58 p.m., you will have only 1 minute—don’t wait! Please remember that all references to time in this course (and hence all deadlines) are in Eastern Standard Time Zone or E.S.T.

Quizzes provide feedback, in the form of short explanations, for each question. This feedback will be available to you in a report that is generated after you submit your quiz. This feedback is designed to reinforce the main ideas of the unit for you and serves as good review material for the final exam at the end of the course. PRINT OR SAVE THE FEEDBACK for studying purposes, as you will NOT be able to access it later in the course when you are studying for the final exam. Your questions will be chosen from a large database carefully designed so that all of you receive quizzes of equal difficulty, covering the same subject matter, but with different questions in a different order.

Since there are 12 units of study, there are 12 RockOn quizzes. You are required to complete 10 out of the 12, although we encourage you to take all 12 quizzes. Each is worth 4.5% of your final grade (for a total of 45%). Out of 12 quizzes, the lowest 2 grades will be dropped.


There are six exercises incorporated into GEOSC 10. One exercise is assigned every 2 weeks and you are given two weeks in which to complete it. Access to these exercises is through Canvas. They can be found in the appropriate module in Canvas. Only one exercise will be accessible at a time. Due dates are posted on our calendar. Penn State General Education requires active learning in all courses, so this is your chance! You must complete five (5) exercises chosen from among six (6). Each is worth 5% of your final grade (for a total of 25%).


The material on the exercises is considered part of the class and may appear on quizzes or the final after the exercise is completed. Therefore, you are encouraged to at least review / try ALL of the 6 exercises, even if you only submit 5.

Final Exam

The final exam will open at 12:00 am on Monday of the last week of class. In the Fall and Spring semesters, it will remain open for an entire week, closing at 11:59 pm on Monday, the first day of finals week. Since the summer semester is shorter, it will only be open for a few days. Please see the syllabus or the course calendar for the exact dates. You may take the exam during any two-hour period while the exam is open. The final really does close at 11:59 p.m., so if you start to take the final at 11:54 p.m., you will have only 5 minutes — don’t wait! The final exam will be much like the quizzes, only longer and more comprehensive. As with the quizzes, questions will be chosen from a large database carefully designed so that all of you receive exams of equal difficulty, covering the same subject matter, but with different questions in a different order. Details will be provided during the second half of the course.

You will notice that the final exam is open for a full week. YOU get to choose when you take it, so please plan accordingly.

The best way to do well on this exam is to stay current with all of the course material, to carefully review the feedback we provide in the weekly unit quizzes, and ask questions when you need to!

The final exam counts for 20% of your total grade.

Extra Credit

Extra-credit opportunities will be available at different times throughout the semester. Generally, these opportunities will involve contributing to the course experience for everyone in some way, such as sharing your own park photos in a "vTrip" format or writing your own set of quiz questions. All Extra Credit opportunities are located in the Extra Credit Module in Canvas. You may do all of the extra credit exercises if you wish, getting additional credit for each of the three. Extra credit will be considered carefully in assigning grades.

Turning Assignments In

On quizzes, exercises, or other things handed in, please check your answers before you submit them electronically. Materials submitted online are graded in the same way as any other course submissions--we grade what you submit. If the answer is D but you chose C, the answer is wrong...whether you accidentally wrote C by hand, or you accidentally colored in the C circle on the scantron sheet with your #2 pencil, or you accidentally clicked on C with your mouse.

Computer Connections

You are responsible for your computer connection. If you were driving to campus to take an in-class exam, the instructor would not come out to get you if your car broke down. If you are taking an online quiz and your apartment's wireless goes down, the situation is the same. Thus, you should find a good, solid connection. We let you "drop" two quizzes, two surveys, and one exercise when calculating your grade, and this should cover an occasional electronic disaster on your end.