Geography 596A: Individual Studies - Peer Review

GEOG 596A Syllabus

This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document or by clicking on any of the links below to “jump” to a specific section. That being said, it is essential that you read the entire document. Together these serve the role of our course "contract."

Fritz Kessler, Beth King, and Jim Detwiler
2217 Earth-Engineering Sciences Building
University Park, PA 16802

E-MAIL: Please use your PSU e-mail address in all correspondence about this course.

AVAILABILITY: Students are welcome to contact me by email anytime; I usually am able to respond within 24 hours. Although e-mail correspondence is preferred, students may also contact me by telephone.

This is an individual studies class and, as such, has very little in the way of formal online instruction. The "instructor-of-record" of this course will make sure that you're connected with your faculty adviser as you're doing your independent study and will set up the end of term online seminar in which you present your work to the others in the class.

Most students will utilize their independent study credits in this course to work on their proposal for their capstone project.

Information for Students Who Are Working on Their Project Proposal

Since the project proposal forms the basis for your capstone project, each of you will be working with your program adviser on your proposal. Therefore, proposal formats will likely vary, as each adviser may have different requirements for the length and format of the project proposal.

A typical proposal format would include the following sections:

  1. Background
  2. Goals and Objectives
  3. Proposed Methodology
  4. Project Timeline
  5. Anticipated Results

While your work schedule for the course will vary depending on what is agreed upon between you and your program adviser, here is a typical course schedule:

  • Part 1 (Weeks 1-3)
    A. Refine the problem - Narrative discussion of research to be conducted and why it's important
    B. Conduct a literature review
    Deliverable to adviser: 2-3 page narrative identifying significant literature, including identification of major issues discussed, approach used, lessons learned, history of issues, and future of the issues, include formal reference citations
  • Part 2 (Weeks 4-6)
    A. Identify research approach
    B. Identify research steps/methods
    C. Identify anticipated research results
  • Part 3 (Weeks 7-9)
    A. Develop a rough draft of consolidated narrative
    B. Develop a PowerPoint presentation
    C. Adviser review and comment on narrative and presentation
  • Part 4 (Week 10)
    A. Present via Zoom
    B. Collect peer review comments
    C. Revise narrative and presentation based on peer review

Check with your adviser to see what requirements s/he has for your project proposal and evaluation and grading.

Information for Students Taking GEOG 596 to Meet the Peer Review Requirement

You will use GEOG 596 credits to meet your peer review requirements and you will use this opportunity to present preliminary work or a project proposal for your capstone project. We will have an end of term virtual seminar where you present your preliminary work or capstone project proposal to the rest of the class. That will usually take place in the final week of the class.

What will this all look like? By the end of the term, you will have completed a PowerPoint presentation that summarizes your work and that can be delivered in 25 minutes. We reserve 5 minutes at the end of the presentation for questions. You will present your work in a live Web conference, using Zoom (a collaboration tool that includes video conferencing, application sharing, and chat). Depending on the number of students registered for the course, we will likely need to schedule more than one date/times to give these live. While I hope that you will be able to (virtually) attend all of the presentations given in this course, presentations will be recorded and made available online for later viewing, as well. That way everyone will have an opportunity to provide feedback, either live or via the Web, on the presentations. Everyone in the class is required to provide feedback to each of their peers in the class.

I want to maintain as informal a process as I can in this course--really modeled after our independent studies in-residence.

Technical Requirements

Equipment requirements: High-speed internet access, webcam optional. See the Online Geospatial Education Technical Requirements for details.

Not sure if your computer is set up correctly? You can use the links below to test your settings:

  1. Adobe Acrobat
  2. Frames
  3. Java [This may take a minute to load.]
  4. JavaScript

If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the World Campus Help Desk.