GRY 1110(section 82638): Introduction to Physical Geography


Three credits                                                           FALL 2010, MONDAY [7:15PM-10:00PM]


Instructor: Michael. B. Collier                             Hours of availability-mons:6:30p-7:00p

Voicemail: (301) 934-7790  ext.4891                                 Faculty room: LR 107

E-mail:                                      URL:


Department’s Administrative Assistant: Janet Thompson (tentative)       Room: HT 720

Telephone messages: (301) 934-7752   metro: (301) 870-3008 ext. 7752   Fax: call Janet   


For school closing due to weather,  or  an emergency, call 301-369-1999 or 800-650-4023



Course Description and Objectives

Physical geography is an Earth system science. The course integrates the study of the spatial patterns/characteristics, and phenomena, their distributions, and human impacts.

Several objectives will help us understand the processes responsible for the development and function of our surrounding physical environment. Our goal will;

(i)             Examine the spatial dimensions of Earth’s natural systems- its energy, air, water, weather, climates, landforms, soils, plants, etc.

(ii)            Help us understand the reciprocal relationships between these systems (interaction between humans and our environment is currently a subject of strong debate among environmentalist, the UN, governments, and economists).


Viewed as both a natural, and social science, the course fulfills the State of Maryland’s general education requirements, in biological and physical sciences. Scientific inquiry will be a continuum of other natural sciences (geology, chemistry, biology and physics). Inferences will be attained, using the five basic geographic themes;

·         Asking questions (the why of where)

·         Acquiring information (e.g. gathering data)

·         Organizing information (e.g. producing maps, reports)-lab work.  

·         Analyzing information. (What is the significance?)

·         Answering questions or be evaluated. (What have I learned?)


IMPORTANT!  Please read the attached National Geographic standards as adopted by the Geographic Education National Implementation project in 1994 [pp. 5 and 6].  These standards (basis of geographic literacy) should clarify the importance of geography for General Education.



Required Text and Materials

McKnight T.L. and Hess D, Physical Geography: tenth edition. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458

Basic calculator (+-, x, / functions), World Atlas, Links from the textbook     






Course and General Education Expectations To meet the College’s general education goals (pg. 48—CSM catalog 2010-2012), tThis course, [GRY 1110] demands the following: course requirements

A.     Readings: Before prior, to all class meetings, it is required to read assigned sections of your text (see tentative course outline) as various instructional approaches will be explored to attain our objective.

Tips:--Examine and grasp the objectives for each chapter, vocabularies… write down definition of essential terms (glossary), read sections that put these terms into context for you (i.e. read as much as you need to understand the terms), read chapter article(s) [news report, career links etc.], visit the text’s website [mygeographyplace], and Attend all classes. Prepare to use terms in class discussions or exercises.


1.   Read college-level materials e.g.  Journals, electronic materials etc.

2.   Define and interpret unfamiliar words

70. Have a basic knowledge of local, national and world geography

71. Be familiar with how technology and human activities shape society and the environment.


  1. Class Discussions: will ensure essential concepts from the text, are well understood, brainstorm worksheets and problems designed to develop numerical literacy (Lab).

GenEd- Mathematics

15. Perform mathematical operation accurately                                              

17. Interpret graphs, table, and charts           

18. Understand mathematical information and relationship stated in word

GenEd- Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, and Reasoning

37. Ask and answer questions effectively

51. Engage in constructive debate

59. Recognize cause and effect

GenEd- Nat/Tech

70. Have a basic knowledge of local, national and world geography

71. Familiarize yourself with how technology and human activities shape society and the Environment.



ASSESSMENTS-Quizzes /Test /Oral Presentations {assessment dates on pp. 4 & }5}.

Map Quizzes; Keen retention of spatial phenomena, is a necessity for physical geographic literacy. You should be able to grasp and retain an appreciation of scale. Four map quizzes will be administered. You will identify physical, cultural phenomena/matters, at global, national, and local levels. Refer to the tentative outline (pp. 4 & 5), for assigned dates.

GenEd --Nat/Tech

Refer to 70, and 71.


Tests/Concept Quizzes: during this session, two test, and two concept quizzes, will be administered. See tentative outline (pp. 4 & 5), for assigned dates.


Refer to 15, 17, 18, 70, and 71.

13. Write a unified, coherent essay, correct in structure and mechanic, which supports a clear, thesis.


Oral [chapter] assessment—Group Presentations: The class will work in assigned groups to complete this task. There will be a total of two presentations, per group (see group assignments, outlined on pgs 4 and 5).


GenEd-Learning and speaking

28. Set study goals and priorities to attain stated course objectives

29. Plan for completion of both long-term and short term assignments

30. Prepare for different types of evaluations

39. Organize and present ideas and feelings in language appropriate to the situation and





Your assessments scores have been apportioned as follows;






Oral Presentation


Concept Quiz                                        

Map Quizzes                

Total points









Final grade will be, the average sum total of all the average your scores/mean, attained from each of the assessments (presentation, test, tests, and quizzes) at the proportion listed above.



Grades: 90 and up = A,    80-89 = B,    70-79 = C,    60-69 = D,    59 and below = F


Borderline and additional grading policies: Based on your a perfect attendance, and your participation in class, borderline grades will be adjusted to the next whole number (highest or lowest). An example; 89.5 will become A, but an 89.4 will remain a B, unless the instructor deems it fit for a change.

Incomplete… under certain circumstances this is a temporary grade received by the student, if unable to fulfill the course requirements by the end of the examination period (12/20/10). For more information refer to your student handbook.

W: withdrawn…grades received if the student fills a withdrawal form, submit it to the appropriate office before the last day to withdraw (November 85, 20107).




Attendance: Federal regulations require that attendance be taken, in at  every class meeting. There is no penalty for missing classes.  3% has been set aside for perfect attendance… this will be added to your final score. WITH EXCEPTIONS, such as illness, or other emergencies, Youyou should attend all classes in order not to fall behind. Group [Oral] assessmenignments have been set. Your participation is required. Remember! It makes up 10% of your grade.

3% has been set aside as a reward, for perfect attendance… this will be added to your final score at the end of the semester [total points].

Lastly, please note that late arrivals and early departures are disruptive to the learning environment.  Except for emergencies, inform me (ahead of time) if you will be arriving late or need to leave early.



ADA Accommodation

Students with disabilities who believe they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact Disabled Student Services in the Learning assistance Department at (301) 934-7614 ASAP to better ensure that such needs are provided as early as possible.




Students will be expected (during tests, or other assignments) to do their own work and to properly credit (write down) sources of information (person or book or article from electronic media). Students involved in willful plagiarism will suffer the consequences as stated in the most recent student handbook.  Cheating, in any form, will not be tolerated.

Unauthorized Persons and Cell phone use

Unauthorized persons (children, family members, friends and persons not taking the course) will not be allowed in the classroom.  For more information on this policy, see the most recent student handbook.

The use of cell phones in class will not be entertained. PLEASE MAKE SURE your phone is off or on vibrate (in special cases), before you enter the classroom.



Success: One prime objective ensuring student success to the student is a prime objective. If you need additional help at any point during the intercession, call, leave a message, or send e-mail.














Introduction to the course

Chapt.1-Introduction to Earth (pp.1-25)





Chapt.9 -The Hydrosphere (pp.234-259)





Chapt.3-Introduction to the Atmosphere (pp. 48-65)

Presentation (Group 6)


Map quiz #1

Take-home Concept quiz #1-Chapt. 1, 9, & 3





Chapt.4-Insolation and Temperature (pp. 66-95 )—Presentation (Group 5)






Chapt.5-Atmospheric Pressure and Wind (pp. 96-125)—Presentation (Group 4)





Chapt.6 -Atmospheric Moisture (pp. 126-159) Presentation (Group 3)


Map quiz # 2

Test #1-Chapt. 4, 5, & 6




MAP QUIZ # 2 / TEST # 1

Chapt.7 -Transient Atmospheric Flows and  

               Disturbances (pp.160-187)

Presentation (Group 2)




Chapt.2-Portraying Earth (pp.26-47)

Presentation (Group 1)

Chapt.13-Introduction to Landform Study (pp.352-373)

 Presentation (Group 6)






Chapt.12 -Soils (pp.322-351)

Chapt.15 -Preliminaries to Erosion: Weathering and   

                 Mass Wasting (pp. 416-435)             

Video segment


Map quiz # 3

Test # 2-Chapt. 7, 2, 13, 12, &     





MAP QUIZ # 3 / TEST # 2

Chapt.16 -The Fluvial Processes (pp. 436-465)

Video segment





Chapt.20-Coastal Processes and Terrain (pp.532-554)—Presentation (Group 5)




Chapt.18-The Topography of Arid  Landforms (pp.480-501)

Presentation (Groups 4 and 3)





Chapt.14-The Internal Processes (pp. 374-415) Presentation (Groups 1 & 2)


Map Quiz # 4

Take-home Concept Quiz # 2-Chapt. 16, 20, 18, 14, & 8




MAP QUIZ # 4 / Concept Quiz # 2 due

**Chapt.8 -Climatic Zones and Types** (pp.188-233)









The National Geography Standards

Adopted by the geographic Education National implementation Program in 1994


I.   Our World in Spatial Terms

1.      How to use maps and other geographic representations tools, and technologies acquire, process and report information from a spatial perspective.

2.      How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places,

And, the environment in a spatial context.

3.   How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places and environments                                                                                                                                                                 

II. Places and Regions

4.   Physical and human characteristics of places

5.   That people create regions to interpret Earth’s complexity

6.   How culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions


III. Physical Systems

7.   Physical processes that shape the patterns of the Earth’s surface

8.   Characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems


IV. Human Systems 

 9.  Characteristics, distribution and migration of human populations

10. Characteristics, distribution and complexity of Earth’s cultural mosaics

11. Patterns and networks of economic interdependence

12. Processes, patterns and functions of human settlement

13. How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of our of our planet


V.  Environment and Society

14. How human actions modify the physical environment

15. How physical system affect human systems

16. Changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution and importance of resources


VI. The Uses of Geography

17. How to apply geography to interpret the past

18. How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future