Centralia College

Physical Geography (GEOG 201) Syllabus

NOTE: class uses CANVAS and has online components


Instructor:      Patrick Pringle            E-mail:   via CANVAS ONLY

Office:            WSC 318 F (Natural Science Center);      736-9391 x8584

                        NOTE: If you leave a message on my phone, please speak slowly and leave your name and number.

                        Repeat your number twice.

                        Please, do not call my office number unless you plan to leave a message if you don’t reach me

                        Please email me only via Canvas.

Pat Pringle's schedule   lists my office hours; you can routinely find me in my office WSC 318f or in the geology lab (WSC 105)

Lecture:         MTWTh 10:00-10:50    WSC 101 Natural Sciences Center

Labs:     Class 101LA 5333: THUR 1-2:50; Class 101LB 5334: THUR 3:00-4:30    classes in WSC 105 and occasionally in WSC 103

Centralia College Earth Sciences web: 

THIS CLASS USES CANVAS Assignments, misc. resources, and occasionally pdfs of lectures for this course will be available online via the CANVAS web page. This page will be updated throughout the course, so please check it regularly.


Course description: Physical geography 201 is a study of the basic physical aspects of planet Earth, their dynamics, scale, relationships, and integrated patterns of world distribution. Topics include the interconnections of Earth’s key environmental systems (geosphere, hydrosphere, crysosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere), Earth-sun relationships, seasons, the global energy balance; climate, weather, and the energy and scale aspects of natural processes. We will also examine the hydrologic, carbon, nitrogen, and other cycles; surficial processes (rivers, glaciers, mass wasting, etc), soils, and landforms. Upon successful completion of this course students will have an understanding of Earth’s physical processes and of why climatic zones, plants and animals differ from place to place on the Earth. You will also have an understanding of the distribution and movement of water.  Students will be able to understand the basic science underlying environmental and geographical issues in the news. This course is primarily a lecture course but it also involves student activities and demonstrations.

Physical Geography course outcomes and course outline

Course Materials: The textbook below is essential reading and is the primary source of information for lectures, discussions, and exams.  You might find it helpful to bring your book to class and lab. 

                BOOK: Elemental Geosystems, 6th Edition, Robert W. Christopherson | ©2010 | Paper; 640 pages.  ISBN: 978-0-321657-80-0; publisher: Pearson

I will supply the lab materials.

Note: This class is web enhanced, meaning some components and resources are online. If you do not have access to a personal computer at home, then you are expected to complete any online components using the Centralia College library or computers labs.

Credits: 5

Useful learning aids (optional):           

Dictionary of Geological Terms, American Geological Institute [can find at used bookstores or via web]

Used (and recent) physical geology textbooks (web, used bookstores, and friends)

Link to an online physical geography book by Michael Ritter   Physical Geography net by Michael Pidwirny and Scott Jones  

Link to the introductory Geoscience Virtual Textbook

Link to  an  open-access physical geology textbook by Steve Earle  

*Check resources link on Earth Sciences at Centralia College homepage for useful links 

Do you still have more questions?  Please see about_books_homework_notetaking_etc

GRADING POLICY:  Your final grade for Geography 201 is based on the total number of points you accumulate from the following sources (values approximate):

LECTURE and FINAL EXAMS (4 total)                                            ~65%


and LAB WORK                                                                   ~35%

ABOUT TESTS: Tests will include material from lectures and labs. * This component assesses a student’s contributions to the learning environment in the classroom. Disciplinary problems that interrupt or impede the progress of the class will also be assessed as part of this component.  Exams:  There will be no make-up tests except for in extreme cases.  You will need a physicians note and/or provide me with advance notice of a schedule conflict if such a situation arises. Exams will include material from the books, lectures, and videos.

Do your own work.  Suspected cheating, intellectual parasitism, plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated.  Additionally, instances of such will be reported to the Centralia College administration for disciplinary action.

Grade assessment: see grading scale to find out the point and letter grade equivalents for percentage scores on tests.

Term assignment: There will likely be a Term Assignment required.  Information regarding the assignment will be provided in another handout.  Term Assignments must be turned in at the beginning of the class period on the due-date assigned for full credit. 

Web site: Information for this course is posted on the class web page listed above in this syllabus. This web page is a work in progress and will change as we go through the class. Look there for this syllabus, copies of selected class handouts, links, reading suggestions, assignments, and additional information. Don’t forget to check out   


Late assignments: For you own sake, hand in assignments on time. Assignments turned in late will lose credit points.

All multipage assignments must be stapled with the students name on each page; trim perforation “frizzies” off the edge of pages—unless I specify otherwise, it is acceptable to recycle paper that has previously been printed on one side. Simply draw an “x” across the previously printed page.

Handwritten assignments:  You will be expected to provide a review of each video shown in class or of the presentations of any guest speakers. I will provide a video review form on the web page. For video reviews and essays on quizzes, please write neatly, and use pencil or blue or black ink only.  Unreadable assignments will be returned for no credit. If possible, please type assignments. Please staple all assignments and write your name on each page.

Typed assignments: Please follow guidelines given for each typed assignment.  This generally includes 10 or 12 point font, preferably Times or Arial, margins 1 - 1.25 inches, black ink, white, unbleached or reused paper, with no report covers

Evaluation of written assignments and essay questions: I will use grading guidelines such as this rubric in order to evaluate the quality of any written assignments and essay questions. A great way to get a better grade is to look at the guidelines shown in the rubrics for assessing good writing and then make sure your written products “measure up”.

Tests and Quizzes:  I will provide computerized forms for some quizzes.  Bring a #2 pencil with good eraser; mechanical pencils with HB lead work well.  Be sure to thoroughly erase all mistakes and stray pencil marks during the quiz.  No corrections will be made for you, nor will any be made after quizzes are graded and returned. Those failing to show up for a test will not be allowed to take a makeup test except in case of medical emergency. You must notify me of medical appointments and situations or illness BEFORE THE TEST.


We have two lab modes: in the classroom and field trips. During the field trips and in the lab you will be given problems to solve. These lab assignments will be graded on a point basis. The point value of each lab will be indicated.

For field trips, you need to bring some footwear that does not have slick soles and rain gear or an umbrella. Your feet may get very wet from the wet grass, so you may want to have a change of shoes for after the trip. You should bring something to write on and write with on the trips.


Information regarding class assignments will be provided during the term.  Assignments must be turned in at the beginning of the class period on the due-date for full credit.


The overall goals of the exercises and content of this class follow the Centralia College's general education learning themes and the Centralia college distribution outcomes listed for the Natural Sciences and quantitative skills.


I take attendance during the first week or so of class; if you don't show up you may be dropped to give your place to someone on the waiting list.  While attendance is not required, skipping classes won’t help you become a successful student. In fact, ALL class members benefit from fellow students’ consistent attendance and thoughtful questions and comments. Those who make a habit of skipping classes typically struggle to bring home the good grades.  If you do miss a lecture, you don't need to inform me.  Plan to get notes or special instructions from one of your classmates.  Do not rely on lecture outlines that may be posted on the web page because the cadence of each class differs.

This is a demanding course with a lot of material covered in a short period of time.  Regular class attendance is essential to ensure adequate mastery of the material.  If, due to credit load, work schedule, family requirements or health reasons, you will be unable to attend regularly, PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS!  From time to time, pop quizzes will be given at the beginning of class, so please be on time—if you are absent for a pop quiz, you will miss the quiz.

Be respectful of everyone in class. Many people, including me, have chemical sensitivities, so please refrain from wearing excessive perfume, cologne, or hairspray.

If you need to talk with me about your grade, please do not do this before, during, or after class. Please make an appointment with me or visit during my office hours, which are posted on the door of my office and on the “class links” web page.

I want you to do well in this class!  Forming a study group and quizzing one another on class material can be very helpful.  I will be available during my office hours if you have questions or concerns.  If, however, you should get into academic difficulty, know that it is your responsibility to keep track of drop dates and other deadlines.


Please be courteous to your classmates as well as your instructor and avoid activities disruptive to the learning environment. 

Please, no side conversations during lecture class!  Even if you whisper, even if you sit in the back, even during a video, talking bothers other people in class. 

Be punctual.  If you must arrive late or leave early, let me know in advance and sit near the door. 

Please turn your cell phone off! Making calls & text messaging during class time is rude and distracting and will count as negative class participation points.

NOTE: If a student is disruptive to the learning environment, they will be given a verbal warning. Further disruptions of the class will be followed by a written warning, and will likely be asked to leave. Students who continue to be disruptive in class will referred to Vice President of Academic Affairs

Special Needs Statement

Students with disabilities may contact the Director, Center for Disability Services to determine their eligibility for reasonable accommodation.  The director's office is located with the Counseling Center in the Student Services Building.


Copyright Notice

Materials used in connection with this course may be subject to copyright protection under Title 17 of the United States Code.


Equal Opportunity Statement

It is the policy of Centralia College to assure equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity, creed, color, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, age (over 40), religion, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or status as a disabled or Vietnam-era veteran.


Centralia College does not discriminate in admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs or activities. Designated Title II, VI, VII, IX, Section 504, ADA compliance officer: Christopher C. Bailey, J.D., Vice President for Human Resources and Legal Affairs, Hanson Hall Room 101, Centralia College, 600 Centralia College Blvd, Centralia WA 98531-4099, 360.736.9391, extension 285.


Extended Absence

Should a contagious illness, such as the H1N1 virus, necessitate an extended absence from class, please contact your instructor as soon as possible to make arrangements to complete, if possible, the coursework you miss.




Reviewed By:

Revised 1/2/2017