IMAGE:  December 2002 GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
Volume 95, Issue 2
LINK:  Research
Original Source  
Next Generation  
Course Work  
LINK:  Features
The Complexity Complex  
Three Months among the Pyramids  
Index to a Canon

The Real Life Adventures of Pinocchio


LINK:  Class Notes
Alumni News  
Alumni Works  
C. Vitae  

LINK:  Campus News
Chicago Journal  
University News e-bulletin  

LINK:  Also in every issue
Editor's Notes  
From the President  

GRAPHIC:  ResearchSyllabus

There's only one book on Susan Kidwell's syllabus for Principles of Stratigraphy: Sedimentary Geology (Freeman) by Donald R. R. Prothero and Fred Schwab. Much of the book won't be covered in class, but Kidwell has no choice; it's the only text on the market that covers stratigraphy. Prothero had an earlier stratigraphy textbook, but "no one taught it but me," says Kidwell. "Less than ten orders every two years couldn't keep the book in print." Luckily, most of that text has survived (and is updated) in the new volume.

IMAGE:  Susan Kidwell

Susan Kidwell

Not that Kidwell wants students to bury their noses in a book. A major priority is to get students reading primary sources. "One of my favorite campus activities is going shelf-trawling at Crerar," she tells the classwandering down the science library's aisles of current journals and scanning coverlines until something jumps out at her. "I remember as an undergraduate that reading journal articles can feeland islike jumping into the deep end of a pool. Unlike textbooks, they don't start with 'matter is composed of atoms.' Some authors are nice, some are thoughtless. None of them write with the graduate or undergraduate student in mind. Consider this a safe place to test the waters. We're here to help."

"We" includes teaching assistant Tom Rothfus, a lanky, curly-haired guy. He leads the weekly two-hour lab sessions, where students learn bibliographic, field, and graphical methodsand get to play with actual rocks.

In addition to the lab work (20 percent of the grade) and two exams on the lectures (60 percent), there's a term paper due at quarter's end, along with an oral presentation (20 percent). "It's never too soon to start working on your oral skills," Kidwell says. "Besides, I hate it when students do all this great work and then no one sees it but me."




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