GEOG 221 PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY RESEARCH PROJECT
Project Goals and Objectives
The primary goal of this project is for students to demonstrate an understanding of what is known as the “Scientific Method.” To do that, students will need to:
Select a physical geography topic they would like to research
Identify a specific question or hypothesis related to that topic
Research existing data and create new findings through experimentation to answer that question
Formulate a conclusion based upon the research findings
From the above list, the project logically divides into two main sections: a report section and an experiment section. Item numbers one, two, and four represent the report section, while number three makes up the experiment section. For each of these two major sections the following individual components should be included:
Report Section contains the majority of the project’s original written content and needs to include each of the following items:
Project Title Information (topic, class, name, date)
Introduction (what is your project about, what will you be doing)
Statement of Hypothesis (what will you be researching)
Conclusion (what has your experimentation proven or disproven, explained, answered)
Complete and Comprehensive Bibliography (show ALL sources used, referenced, cited)
Experimentation Section contains information about the experiment itself, i.e. methods, techniques, tools, etc. This section should also contain the data collected or obtained from the research or experimentation performed. For example, a project comparing temperature trends in Lansing versus Rome, Italy would obviously include official temperature records for both cities, but should also include actual temperature readings recorded by the student for Lansing. All of that data collected or recorded should appear in this section and should include a minimum of three (3) pages of data. Students are expected to perform experimentation and data collection over a minimum of two (2) weeks to receive full credit for this section.
Working either individually or in teams of two or more, students are required to complete and submit a Physical Geography Research Project to demonstrate their understanding of what’s known as the “Scientific Method”. This process is used universally by the scientific community to explain the “how and why” of the simplest to most complex physical processes and events we encounter. The scientific method is built on a process of “perceptions, to observations, reasoning, hypothesis, and predictions”, and students will design and carry out a research project illustrating that process.
Students will choose a research topic of interest that relates to one of the physical geography themes we’ll be studying this semester, as listed in the table of contents of our Geosystems textbook, namely:
PART I Energy-Atmosphere System
PART II Water, Weather, and Climate Systems
PART III Earth-Atmosphere Interface
PART IV Soils, Ecosystems, and Biomes
Students are strongly encouraged to discuss their topic, hypotheses, and methodologies with the instructor prior to beginning any research and experimentation. Also, given that this is a TEAM project, it is incumbent on each team member to contribute adequately and fairly to the project’s completion. Failure of any team member to do so is to be reported to the instructor immediately to avoid any grade improprieties.
DUE DATE4Research Projects can be submitted in hard copy or digital format any time upon completion, but are due AT THE START OF THE FIFTEENTH (15th) WEEK OF THE SEMESTER. Reports submitted after that will be subject to a late penalty up to 10 points for each day late. REPORTS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED FOR GRADE AFTER THE LAST CLASS MEETING OF THE SEMESTER.
Keep in mind that experimentation is an important component of this project so even though a topic may be interesting, be sure to consider what type of experimentation will be needed to adequately test your hypothesis.
Students are to have a topic selected and reviewed by the instructor no later than the end of the 5TH full week of class to allow for ample time to run experiments and/or collect data. STUDENTS NOT MEETING THAT DEADLINE MAY BE SUBJECT TO A TEN (10) POINT DEDUCTION FROM THEIR FINAL PROJECT GRADE.
Project Overview Following topic selection- and approval by instructor- students can move onto formulating a research question related to that topic. For example, if the selected project topic is weather and climate, here are a few interesting questions related to that topic:
“Lansing, Michigan and Rome, Italy are located at approximately 42⁰ N latitude and, therefore, will have similar climates.”
“Daily temperatures on LCC’s downtown campus are always higher than those in outlying suburbs.”
“Grand River water levels in Lansing are directly related to rainfall amounts received in the Red Cedar Watershed.”
After selecting topics, students can then begin their research by gathering/collecting information, conducting experiments, and making observations from the real-world to support or contradict their stated hypothesis. Successful completion of the project will include preparing a report presenting the hypothesis, explaining methodologies, summarizing research findings and experimentation, and presenting a valid and logical conclusion. Completed reports must be a minimum of five (5) pages in length, excluding data reports and graphics, and can be submitted in hard copy or online in D2L.
Grading Projects will earn points for content, quality, organization, completeness, amount of student input, and a demonstration of the student’s understanding of and ability to employ the Scientific Method. Specific point values for each component and the project as a whole are available on the project grading rubric posted on our D2L course site under “Content”.
F WARNING REGARDING COPYING AND PLAGIARISM
All submitted student writing- whether for this project or any of work submitted by the student- must contain a majority of original content with only minimal use of quoted and/or cited material from outside sources. All other-party materials used whether written or graphic (photos, maps, tables, etc.) must be properly cited and credited. Writing that is predominantly “cut-and-pasted” from other-party sources like Wikipedia®, Ask.com®, etc., will not receive credit. Any projects- or any other work submitted for credit by students including exams- found to be in violation of this policy, or copied/plagiarized in part or in total, will receive a zero grade, and will be forwarded to the LCC Office of Student Compliance/Judicial Affairs Office for further review and action. PLAGIARISM IS A SERIOUS VIOLATION OF LCC’S STUDENT CODE OF CONDUCT AND WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
For clarification on citing sources, using quotes, bibliography formats, etc., students should refer to the LCC Writing Center link which can be found under “Online Resources for Students” on the D2L home page.
Please do not wait until late into the term to begin your project. Having your topic selected and presented to me by the third week of the semester will give you ample time for experimentation and/or collection of real-world data. Remember, a major focus of this project is on the “doing” part and not just the “reporting” part as it would be in a term paper. Feel free to run your ideas or questions by me anytime.