GEOL 102 01

GEOL 102 - The Earth Through Time

2021 Fall Syllabus, Section 01, CRN 7560

Course Information

You are responsible for knowing this material, so please read carefully. Any changes will be announced in a Blackboard Announcement. You will be responsible for any changes. Your continued enrollment in this course is your implicit agreement to abide by the requirements of this class.

As an adaptation to COVID, masks that cover mouth and nose are required at all times in the classroom.  (This provision was approved by UND President Armacost on August 5, 2021.)

Provost and Vice President Eric Link disseminated the following policy statement on August 9, 2021:

In this course, students are expected to wear face coverings while in the classroom and/or laboratory. Students electing not to comply with these expectations will not be permitted to enter the room. UND strongly encourages all members of the University community, including students, to get vaccinated and model positive behavior both on- and off-campus in order to foster a healthy and safe learning environment for all students. Individuals who would like to discuss disability accommodations regarding face coverings should contact the Disability Services for Students (DSS) office at 701-777-2664 or Individuals who are unable to wear a face covering due to a sincerely held religious belief should contact the UND Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office at 701.777.4171 or

Class will meet in 109 Leonard Hall unless and until it moves online and is delivered via Zoom.

Times and Location

MWF 11:15am-12:05pm in UND Leonard Hall, Rm 109

Instructor Information

Ronald Matheney, PhD


Office: 207 Leonard Hall

Office Phone: 7017774569

Course Description

The tracing of changes in the Earth and life through time, with emphasis on the record from North America. Geol 102L may be taken concurrently.

Related Sections

  • GEOL 102L 01 - The Earth Through Time Laboratory: T 2pm-3:50pm, Robert Chance
  • GEOL 102L 02 - The Earth Through Time Laboratory: Does Not Meet, Staff

The tracing of changes in Earth and life through time, with emphasis on the record from North America. Geol 102L may be taken concurrently.

If you choose to take the lab, Geol 102L, you will receive a separate grade for that class.  Labs do NOT meet during the first week of class.

Course Materials

  • Text:  Wicander and Monroe, Historical Geology, Evolution of Earth & Life Through Time, 8th edition.  ISBN 978-1-305-11956-7.  No ancillary materials are needed.  (Can rent, order used online, get e-format, buy from UND bookstore, etc.).
  • PowerPoint Notes: PowerPoint slides similar to those shown in class are provided.  Find these under "Schedule, Class Notes".
  • Completed and blank Geologic Time Scales are provided in the "Schedule, Class Notes".
  • Other web sites, linked from the appropriate place under "Schedule, Class Notes".
  • Relevant educational video and/or audio files, linked from the appropriate place under "Schedule, Class Notes".

Technical Requirements/Assistance

For technical assistance, please contact UND Technical Support at 701.777.2222. They are not available during evenings and weekends. Visit the University Information Technologies (UIT) website for their hours, help documents and other resources.  Instructors are generally unable to help with technical problems.

Minimum Technical Skills Needed

In order to succeed in this course, at a minimum, you should be able to:

  • Navigate in and use basic Blackboard functions
  • Download and open electronic documents, such as PowerPoint notes.
  • Complete "clicker" quizzes during class using TurningPoint (register an account and subscription through the "TP" link in the green area on the left side of the Blackboard site).  Access TurningPoint in class using a laptop or phone.
  • Send, receive, and manage email
  • View other websites, watch assigned educational videos and listen to assigned audio content, linked from the appropriate places in "Schedule, Class Notes".
  • Use Zoom in lieu of an office visit.
  • Use Zoom to attend class meetings if the class moves online (due to covid).
  • Complete exams in ProctorU if required on a "snow day" or as a covid response.

Course Logistics

Access and Log in Information

This course uses Blackboard. To get started with the course, please go to: and log in with your NDUS.Identifier, Username and Password. If you do not know your NDUS Identifier or have forgotten your password, please visit Your NDUS Account page on the UIT website.

Course Overview

Day-to-day course content is provided under "Schedule, Class Notes."  There you will find the order of topics and readings, links to corresponding class notes, links to Blackboard quizzes, and the dates of all the exams.

Class notes and quizzes are generally released in "batches" corresponding to the coverage of the next upcoming exam.  For example, notes and quizzes over material to be covered in exam 1 are released early in the term; notes for material covered in exam 2 are released after exam 1 has been taken, and notes for material to be covered in exam 3 are released after exam 2 has been completed, etc.

What Should Students Do First?

Prior to the first class, you should have reviewed the syllabus, snooped around the class's Blackboard site until you are very familiar with it, and taken Quiz 0 (the so-call Syllabus Quiz, covering the course syllabus and policies).

Students should also register a valid subscription to TurningPoint, the application that will be used for in-class "clicker quizzes".  While on the class Blackboard site, click "TP" in the green menu on the left side of the page to get started.  Allowed devices include phones and laptops.  Registration is a multi-step process, so please proceed carefully.


Many services are available to UND students such as writing assistance from the UND Writing Center, free online tutoring from Smarthinking, and more. Visit the Student Resources page for more information. Students also have access to the UND Student Resource Site via Blackboard. It is recommended that you become familiar with the tools and tutorials within the site to better equip you in navigating the course.

Course Requirements/Expectations

  1. The student will review the entire Blackboard site.
  2. The student will access and follow all course instructions found in the Blackboard course.
  3. The student will complete and submit course work by the date noted and in the manner described in Blackboard. We will use Central Time for due dates and times.
  4. The student will participate fully and in a timely manner to get the benefit of learning from instructor and/or peers.



Announcements will occasionally be made during the class period, so please remember to note them down. Announcements not made in class will be posted in Blackboard. Be sure to check the class announcements regularly.  


You are encouraged to ask questions about course content in class. If you need to contact me outside of class (e.g., about a private matter or one that pertains only to you), my contact email address is near the top of this syllabus and on the Faculty link in Blackboard.  Emails will ordinarily be acknowledged within 48 hours, except during holidays.

Course Etiquette

When participating in class, it is important to interact with your peers in an appropriate manner. Please be respectful of your classmates at all times even if you disagree with their ideas.


Grading, Course Requirements, Format of Exams

Grades will be based on the following course requirements and proportions:

  • Exam I - 16.5% of final grade.

  • Exam II - 16.5% of final grade.

  • Exam III - 16.5% of final grade.

  • Exam IV - 16.5% of final grade.

  • Blackboard Quizzes - 15% of final grade.

  • Clicker Quizzes - 15% of final grade.

  • Time Scale Quizzes - 4% of final grade.

Grading Guidelines--Grades will be assigned approximately as follows:

  • 90-100% A

  • 80-89% B

  • 70-79% C

  • 60-69% D

  • Below 60% F


  • Exam dates and times are firm barring an emergency.  Exams will be completed in 109 Leonard Hall unless the class has moved to Zoom because of Covid, or if there is a snow day at the scheduled time.  If there is a "snow day" or if the class has moved to Zoom, exams will be conducted through ProctorU, on the dates and at the times indicated in the "Schedule, Class Notes" section.

  • Format of exams:  The exams will contain multiple-choice and true/false questions (~45 questions, usually) over material covered since the last test. In addition, you will do some writing on the exams.  Exams will include questions about slides, diagrams, and pictures from the course notes and on materials similar to those. Also, by the end of the semester, you will need to be able to construct the Geologic Time Scale "from scratch" and indicate on it the timing of certain key events in Earth and life history. 

  • Clicker Quizzes.  We will have "clicker" questions almost every day. Take quizzes through your computer or a licensed app on your phone.  See "TP" in the green menu at left in Blackboard. Results count toward your class grade. Your lowest three clicker quiz scores will be dropped, but no more, not for any reason.   I will give you a couple of opportunities to test your device before the scores start counting.  The session id for these turning point quizzes will be given each day.

  • Blackboard Quizzes.  These are required to be completed outside of class.  They count toward your grade.  Be aware of deadlines. Quizzes are generally due 45 minutes before class time on the stated due date.  Late quizzes are not scored! Your lowest three Blackboard quiz scores will be dropped, but no more, not for any reason.

  • Timescale Quizzes.  Up to four in-class quizzes in which you fill in some or all of the Geologic Time Scale.  A completed timescale and a blank timescale are provided under "Schedule, Class Notes" for you to practice with.  You need to be present when these quizzes are administered.  If it is impracticable to administer hand-written quizzes, this assessment activity may be eliminated and other assessments will receive proportionally greater weighting in the grade calculation.

  • Extra credit--There is no extra credit. If you need more points, you should spend any time you would have spent doing extra credit to work on the material for the remaining exams

Study tips, amount of effort

1. Take your own notes each day.

2. Set aside a specific time slot several days a week to study for this class. You may need to spend six to nine hours per week for Geol 102, according to traditional advice given by many universities (see item 10 below).

3. You will learn many new terms and concepts in this course. Geology is a very visual science, so it helps if you can make your brain "see" what the geologic term is referring to. For instance, when learning the meaning of the word "trilobite", it helps if you can "see" a trilobite in your mind's eye. To help see and understand terms and concepts, it is a good idea to practice drawing and labeling important diagrams.

4. Always connect features (things) with the processes that formed them. In this way, you can become an owner of knowledge, not just a memorizer of facts. Try always to see connections. Don't simply memorize things just before exams; it doesn't work well for most people.

5. Think about learning. The process is called metacognition.

6. Writing and rewriting notes and drawing and labeling diagrams will help most people incorporate information into their memories.

7. Know everything that is in the class notes, backward and forward. Test questions may require you to put two or more pieces of information together to get the right answer.

8. Go back through the PowerPoint presentations in Blackboard and pay close attention to the figures and diagrams.

9. Prepare for the required quizzes and refer back to them when studying. Remember that deadlines are real.

10. The amount of effort required to do well in most UND classes (even intro science classes) takes many people by surprise--but this is not unique to UND.  Many universities advise students to expect to spend 2 or 3 hours studying outside of class for every 1 hour spent in the classroom (i.e., or in this instance, for every 1 credit of an online lecture course).  Let's see what this means:

  • If you are carrying a "full time load" of 15 credits, you will typically spend about 15 hours a week in class.  If you spend 3 hours studying for every one hour in class, then you will spend 45 hours studying outside class each week.  The total amount of time you spend on course work is therefore (15 + 45 =) 60 hours per week!!!!  Not like high school.
  • Or, if you go with the lower recommendation (2 hours a week studying for every one hour in class), then you spend 15 hours per week in class and 30 hours per week studying outside class, for a total of 45 hours per week on course work.  Yikes!
  • So, when they say "full-time student" it really means "full time!"
  • I can't really tell you how long you will need to study to do well; it will vary quite a bit from one individual to another.  If you can do well by spending less time on a subject, good for you!  On the other hand I had to work pretty hard to do well, and I think most people will be in the same boat.  If you're not doing as well as you want, try spending more time on the material--even more than the guidelines (above) if necessary.

Essential Studies Credit

This class is approved for Essential Studies credit in the area of Critical Inquiry and Analysis, and falls under Math, Science, and Technology.  In a natural science class such as this, critical inquiry and analysis are applied toward the goal of understanding how the natural world operates and of deducing how it has operated in the past. We will discuss many observations Earth scientists have made about the geologic record, and will explore the chains of reasoning that have led to scientific hypotheses about Earth's origin and history. On exams, you will want to show that you understand the process of reasoning from geologic evidence to reach a scientific conclusion. Occasionally, you will have an opportunity to formulate your own tentative explanations to account for observations from the geologic record.

Scholastic Dishonesty

See the Code of Student Life. I may assign a course grade of F for any kind of cheating (and I have!). Don't do it.  Note that sanctions apply to people rendering unauthorized assistance as well as to those receiving it.  Take care to understand the meanings of "plagiarism" and "collusion," both of which are prohibited.

If we wind up using ProctorU for any exams, follow all ProctorU requirements.  ProctorU proctors "flag" forbidden conduct (such as looking away from the computer monitor, going off camera, wearing earbuds or a headset, wearing a hat, etc.).  Notices are sent to the instructor -- eventually -- and the grade initially recorded may therefore change. 

Week of Reading(s): Due:

Course Policies

Many policies are embedded in the information above.  In addition:

Schedule of Topics and Assignments

The schedule of topics is given in "Schedule, Class notes".

Dates of exams are posted in Blackboard, under "Schedule, Class Notes".  Due dates/times for quizzes are found under the "Quizzes" link.  The "Calendar" is probably the most efficient way to see these at a glance, once they are available.

Late Work

The short answer is, late work is not accepted. The exams are already scheduled, and those dates and times will not change except in the event of an emergency.  All students must be present during these exams.  All Blackboard quizzes must be submitted by the due/times dates posted in the course. In the event that a Blackboard quiz is scheduled to be due before I have completed a topic (i.e., if I am behind schedule), the due date will be extended a bit.  Please bring it to my attention as soon as you notice it!  Clicker quizzes can only be completed in class, at the time they are administered.  They cannot be made up.  The same goes for Geologic Time Scale quizzes.

Instructor Responsibilities and Feedback

  • The instructor will record "clicker quiz" and exam grades where you can see them in Blackboard (under My Grades).  Blackboard quizzes are generally scored by the software and are available right after submission.
  • The instructor will be available to answer questions, provide feedback, and offer advice.  You may be directed to re-read the syllabus, including the study tips, etc.  You can email for an appointment, explaining which class/section you are in and what your question is.  Appointments will probably be conducted through Zoom.

Class Participation

Students are required to login regularly to the online class site (Blackboard), where class notes, exam dates, quiz due dates, and quizzes are posted. Students must attend class meetings, as points are at stake.


It is expected that students will complete all requirements for a course during the time frame of the course. For reasons beyond a student’s control, and upon request by the student or on behalf of the student, an incomplete grade may be assigned by the instructor when there is reasonable certainty the student will successfully complete the course without retaking it. The mark “I,” Incomplete, will be assigned only to the student who has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work up to a time within four weeks of the close of the semester, including the examination period, and whose work is incomplete for reasons satisfactory to his or her instructor. More information regarding UND’s Incomplete policy can be found on The Grading System webpage.


Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a serious matter, and any deviations from appropriate behavior will be dealt with strongly. At the discretion of the professor, situations of concern may be dealt with as a scholastic matter or a disciplinary matter.

As a scholastic matter, the professor has the discretion to determine appropriate penalties to the student’s workload or grade, but the situation may be resolved without involving many individuals. An alternative is to treat the situation as a disciplinary matter, which can result in suspension from the University, or have lesser penalties. Be aware that I view this as a very serious matter, and will have little tolerance of or sympathy for questionable practices. A student who attempts to obtain credit for work that is not their own (whether that be on a paper, clicker quiz, Blackboard quiz, homework assignment, exam, etc.) will likely receive a failing grade for that item of work, and at the professor’s discretion, may also receive a failing grade in the course. For more information read the Code of Student Life.

Access & Opportunity, Disability Support and Medical Services

If you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need accommodations in this course because of a disability, please visit with me as soon as possible. My office hours are at the top of this syllabus. If you plan to request disability accommodations, you are expected to register with the Disability Support Services (DSS) office online, (180 McCannel Hall, 701.777.3425).

If you have a temporary medical condition such as a broken arm or recovering after surgery, you may be able to arrange for courtesy services. In most cases, it is expected that you will make your own arrangements for these services. Examples of courtesy services include access to a test scribe if the student has a broken hand; lift equipped van transportation when the student has a broken leg or temporary accessible parking for a student using crutches for a short period. If you are unable to make your own arrangements, please contact DSS (777-3425). Unlike services and/or accommodations provided to eligible students with disabilities, the University is NOT obligated to provide courtesy services.

Resolution of Problems

Should a problem occur, you should speak to your instructor first.  If the problem continues to be unresolved, go to the department chair, and next to the college Dean. Should the problem persist, you have the right to go to the Provost next, and then to the President.

Notice of Nondiscrimination

It is the policy of the University of North Dakota that no person shall be discriminated against because of race, religion, age, color, gender, disability, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, veteran’s status, or political belief or affiliation and the equal opportunity and access to facilities shall be available to all. Concerns regarding Title IX, Title VI, Title VII, ADA, and Section 504 may be addressed to: Donna Smith, Director of Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Title IX Coordinator, 401 Twamley Hall, 701.777.4171, or the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Education, 500 West Madison, Suite 1475, Chicago, IL 60611 or any other federal agency.

Reporting of Sexual Violence

If you or a friend has experienced sexual violence, such as sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking, or sex-based harassment, please contact UND’s Title IX Coordinator, Donna Smith, for assistance: 701.777.4171;; or visit the Title IX webpage.

Faculty Reporting Obligations Regarding Sexual Violence

It is important for students to understand that faculty are required to share with UND’s Title IX Coordinator any incidents of sexual violence they become aware of, even if those incidents occurred in the past or are disclosed as part of a class assignment. This does not mean an investigation will occur if the student does not want that, but it does allow UND to provide resources to help the student continue to be successful at UND. If you have been the victim of sexual violence, you can find information about confidential support services on the Title IX webpage.

UND Cares Program

The UND Cares program seeks to educate faculty, staff and students on how to recognize warning signs that indicate a student is in distress.

How to Seek Help When in Distress

We know that while college is a wonderful time for most students, some students may struggle. You may experience students in distress on campus, in your classroom, in your home, and within residence halls. Distressed students may initially seek assistance from faculty, staff members, their parents, and other students. In addition to the support we can provide to each other, there are also professional support services available to students through the Dean of Students and University Counseling Center. Both staffs are available to consult with you about getting help or providing a friend with the help that he or she may need. For more additional information, please visit the UND Cares program Webpage.

How to Recognize When a Student is in Distress

The term “distressed” can mean any of the following:

  • Student has significant changes in eating, sleeping, grooming, spending, or other daily activities.
  • Student has cut off or minimized contact with family or friends.
  • Student has significant changes in performance or involvement in academics, sports, extracurricular, or social activities.
  • Student describes problems (missing class, not remembering, destructive behavior) that result from experiences with drinking or drugs.
  • Student is acting withdrawn, volatile, tearful, etc.
  • Student is acting out of character or differently than usual.
  • Student is talking explicitly about hopelessness or suicide.
  • Student has difficulty concentrating or difficulty carrying on normal conversation.
  • Student has excessive dependence on others for company or support.
  • Student reports feeling out of control of one’s emotions, thoughts, or behaviors.

UND Cares about Your Success

Important information is available to you through Starfish, which is an online system used to help students be successful. When an instructor observes student behaviors or concerns that may impede academic success, the instructor may raise a flag that notifies the student of the concern and/or refer the student to their academic advisor or UND resource. Please pay attention to these emails and take the recommended actions. They are sent to help you be successful!

Starfish also allows you to (1) schedule appointments with various offices and individuals across campus, (2) request help on a variety of topics, and (3) search and locate information on offices and services at UND.

You can log into Starfish by clicking on Logins on the UND homepage and then selecting Starfish. A link to Starfish is also available in Blackboard once you have signed in.

Ensure Accessibility

To comply with the latest accessibility guidelines, documents posted online, including, but not limited to, Adobe PDF files, Microsoft Word documents, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, and online flipbooks, must be screen-reader friendly. For directions on how to make your syllabus and other course materials accessible, visit the Creating Accessible Content webpage on the TTaDA site.