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The design of the text consists of a series of two-page spreads. Each spread is designed to concisely convey the important aspects of a geological concept or system. The two-page spread design was greatly influenced by educational and cognitive research on how people learn.
This text uses figures and illustrations as the focus for understanding geologic processes. The 2-page spreads feature numerous photos and diagrams. A typical text is written to explain geologic process through facts and theory. The Reynolds team developed their content based on "what students need to know" (learning objectives) and then created the necessary visuals and wrote the presentation around the visuals.
The text has been designed to encourage inquiry and provide readers with tools to think critically about geologic problems. Questions in the title, opening paragraph and topic headings are intended to get readers to think about the topic and become interested and motivated to explore the two-page spread for answers. The authors also use a learning-cycle approach in presenting topics. This approach includes three phases – exploration, introduction of terms and concepts, and connection.
Chapter Opening two page spreads are generally organized around one large, central figure, such as a map, satellite image, or conceptual diagram. Most involve a specific geographic locality to immediately convey that the information in the chapter applies to real world settings.
Topical two page spreads are the foundation of the book. They have one or more main illustration linked to text boxes. Each chapter concludes with a 2-page spread titled Connection that is similar to a case study and describes an actual geologic location with the goal of showing how the chapter topics are connected (tied) together.
Each chapter ends with an "Investigation" two-page spread. In these exercises, readers must apply knowledge, skills, and approaches learned in the chapter.
At the bottom of each two-page spread is a key element titled "Before You Leave this Page..." which serves several important purposes: a) to assign activities that reinforce the key concepts; b) to assure that students understand key concepts before reading the next module; and c) to answer the question "What will be on the exam."
The instructor supplements are superior to any competing text with high-resolution PowerPoint images and the supporting Notes to assist in using the images for course presentation. Many slides also include 3-D images that can be rotated vertically and horizontally. NO other text can match these presentation tools.