Achim Herrmann
Earth Science, Geology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Homework/Assignment
Community College / Lower Division
  • Cenozoic
  • Earth History
  • Geologic Time
  • Geology Rocks
  • LOUIS Peer Review
  • Mesozoic
  • Phanerozoic
  • geology-rocks
  • louis-peer-review
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, Text/HTML

    Education Standards

    Review of "Starting Out With Earth History" assignment

    Review of "Starting Out With Earth History" assignment


    This is a review of an assignment that can be used in a variety of introductory geology classes to introduce students to the geologcial time scale. This review is by Dr. Achim Herrmann (Department of Geology and Geophysics, LSU).

    The resource is here:


    The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary.

    This is an activity designed to help the instructor to introduce the concept of geologic time. This is useful in many entry level geology classes, as well as in upper division classes as a "pre-class assessment" tool.

    It is as comprehensive as the instructor wants it to be. Essentially the assignment is a blank geological timescale. The original activity description, hosted on the very reputable Science Education Research Center (SERC), and accessible on LOUIS, gives the instructor a few idea on how to actively engage students actively working together on the material from the start of the course. However, essentially the assignment is a blank slate: a simple geological time scale and the instructor can easily modify the assignment by choosing a different prompt.

    Content Accuracy

    Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased.

    The geological timescale is idealized and lacks specificity and precision. However, that is ok for the purpose of this assignment. It's simple enough to not intimidate the student with many dates, but course enough to show the major time periods of Earth Histrory that students should be familiar with. 

    Relevance Longevity

    Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement.

    The geological time scale is never going away and this concept will be covered in introductory geology classes for a long time. It's going to be relevant for a long time.


    The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used.

    The original prompt is very clear and leaves the adopting instructor a lot of leeway. The resource is accessible in two different formats, including a text only file that is easily changed. The clarity is thus then dependent on the adopting instructors' prompt.


    The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework.

    This assignment is consistent with what is covered in about every undergraduate geology textbook for physical and historical geology. Adopting it will thus not confuse students.


    The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

    This assignment can be tweaked based on the course the adopting instructor is teaching. The prompt can also be changed based on the objectives and learning outcomes for that session. In that sense, this assignment can be part of many different modules as taught in physical or historical geology classes. 

    Organization Structure Flow

    The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion.

    The assignment itself is short. The organization of the activity description (hosted on SERC) is very clear, structured, and easy to understand and follow. 


    The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader.

    The assignment is available as a PDF document or as a RTF text format. Both allow the adopting instructor to adopt the assignment. 

    Grammatical Errors

    The text contains no grammatical errors.

    There are no grammatical errors.

    Cultural Relevance

    The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.



    This assignement is not very accessible. Especially students that are visually impaired might encounter problems. The assignment is essentially a geological time scale in form of a table entered into a text format. Accessibility checkers return multiple errors and when the documents are read aloud by software programs, the table readout doesn't make sense as the order is not consistent with the order of geological time.