GEO330: Geography of the United States and Canada, Online
Summer 2017: First Session: Syllabus

Instructor, Section 730: Jeanette Eckert (eckertj7@msu.edu)

Syllabus Outline

Course Overview

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes (Objectives)

Course Netiquette

Course Requirements

Course Delivery and Organization

Your instructor, course staff, and course advisor

Lessons

Supplemental websites, articles, and media

Review quizzes

Assessments

Quizzes

Writing assignment

Regional journals

Course Policies

MSU privacy statement

Academic honesty

Plagiarism

Spartan Code of Honor

Grading

Calculating your final grades

Extra credit

Summer 2017: First Session: Schedule

Course Overview:

Geography of the U.S. & Canada (GEO330v) introduces you to the basic physical and human geography of two North American countries: the United States and Canada. The course begins by exploring basic geographic principles that will help students achieve a greater understanding of the natural and human features that make the landscapes found in North America what they are and the characteristics that unify regions and distinguish them from one another. The online lessons are structured, like your textbook, using a regional framework, whereby each region is homogeneous in some respect – that is, unified by a set of characteristics such as the physical environment, cultural traits, history, economic activities, and so on. From there, we depart that approach and focus on a theme that may define, unify, or divide that region and others in some way. We hope that by incorporating a thematic discussion into the regional structure, students will see that, apart from the relatively static set of regions we have outlined, there are other spatial patterns and processes (both natural and human) at work on the North American landscape.

Beyond the borders of these regions and countries, the study of geography and geographical principles introduced in this course are important in today's globalized world, even if you have no intention of ever leaving North America. Political, economic, and cultural systems are connected and, in some cases, integrated, and our actions can affect change beyond our immediate area(s) of influence. It is our hope that through this course you become not only more aware of the landscapes of the U.S. and Canada, but that you gain a geographic skill-set that will allow you to better understand the similarities and differences between landscapes and regions (and the populations therein) worldwide.

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes (Objectives):

Goals
The purpose of this course is to:

  1. Introduce students to the study of regional geography, including the approaches, methods, tools, and vocabulary.
  2. Broaden students’ knowledge and understanding of North American regions and the diverse cultural and physical landscapes between and within those regions.
  3. Cultivate an appreciation of the diversity of cultural and physical landscapes in North America, and how those landscapes are interrelated.
  4. Develop students’ geographic perspective and provide opportunities for them to place local and global events in a geographic context (at various scales).
  5. Foster critical thinking about local and global events and phenomena, and the assessment of how those events might influence North America, its various landscapes and people.

Learning outcomes (objectives)
By successfully completing for this course, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss how the culture of European colonizers shaped North American settlements and tell what European customs and beliefs made an impression on the early landscape.  
  2. Describe variations in North America’s physical landscape and explain how those natural variations have shaped land use and land use patterns, and are revealed on the cultural landscape historically and today.
  3. Explain how the physical landscape has been perceived at different times in North America’s history and identify the ways those perceptions have influenced (encouraged, discouraged, or changed) settlement and land use.
  4. Identify the major migrations (patterns and trends) that have taken place in North America and summarize the factors that have influenced the movement of people in North America.
  5. Differentiate between a regional and thematic approach to geographic education and summarize the ways each can be used to learn about spatial patterns, variation, and relationships between places and regions.
  6. Define and use common terms associated with the study of geography such as space, place, region, landscape, and scale.
  7. Compare and contrast the physical and cultural landscapes characteristics of the regions identified and studied in the online lessons and text.
  8. Discuss how the development and outcome of political, social, and economic events in the United States and Canada can be viewed in geographic context.
  9. Demonstrate critical thinking by placing global and local events in a geographic context and relate those events to the populations, landscapes, and/or political and economic systems of North America.
  10. Read and analyze a map of North America using basic map reading skills and an understanding of how spatial variation, patterns, and distributions are represented on a map.
  11. Interpret North America’s physical and cultural landscapes (as seen in images) based on knowledge and understanding of features, landforms, and the activities and characteristics that distinguish landscapes from place to place, region to region.
  12. Compare and contrast the United States and Canada’s political, social, and economic systems, and the ways in which each has developed over time.

Note: If you wish to explore the basic geographic concepts covered in this course in more detail, we recommend taking Cultural Geography (Geo151), Physical Geography (Geo206), or one of the regional geography courses (for example, United States and Canada (Geo330), Africa (Geo338), Europe (Geo336), Asia-Pacific (Geo227), Middle East (Geo339), et cetera, offered by the Department of Geography at Michigan State University.

Course Netiquette:

An entirely online course is different from the traditional courses you have taken at Michigan State University. In an online course, the only contact you are likely to have with your Instructor or with others in the class happens through email, social media, and chat rooms/discussion forums. In general, this system works very well and some students prefer it to a traditional (lecture) class because they can ask questions freely without feeling intimidated. We have also discovered that this same feeling of freedom can be negative, particularly because some students feel that they can be disrespectful toward others. That said, most students make an effort to respect others and their opinions. We ask that you make a special effort to be one of these respectful people.

Students who make inappropriate comments will be warned the first time by email. Upon the second offense, you will be asked to discuss the matter with Beth Weisenborn. REMEMBER: THE ONLY BASIS YOUR INSTRUCTOR HAS FOR GRADING AND DISCUSSIONS ARE THROUGH YOUR WORDS ON A COMPUTER SCREEN. The instructor has no other context in which to understand your thinking. Therefore, it is important to be concise, informative, and polite while talking with your Instructor and other students in the class.

Course Requirements:

Course Delivery and Organization:

While a team of Geography faculty and staff manages the course, an Instructor teaches your section. Moreover, this course is delivered through a series of online lessons and supplemented with textbook readings, news articles, blog posts, self assessments, videos, and other online media delivered through the D2L learning management system. Course assessments are accomplished through online quizzes and assignments.

Your instructor, course staff, and course advisor

Jeanette Eckert  is the Instructor. She is responsible for this course, from the day-to-day management to the grading. Ms. Eckert will grade assignments and assessments, respond to any content questions you have, answer questions about how to work through the course, and issue final grades. ALL email correspondence should go to Ms. Eckert.

Juliegh Bookout and Beth Weisenborn are Online Geography (onGEO) staff members, so you may receive notices from them occasionally.

Dr. Gary Schnakenberg is the faculty advisor of this course, and is the professor responsible for the class in the context of the the Department of Geography at Michigan State. During the semester, Dr. Schnakenberg will NOT be involved in the day-to-day workings of the course.

Lessons

This course consists of 12 online lessons. Lessons can be accessed online by logging into the course website at d2l.msu.edu. Each lesson folder will contain all of the material and content associated with that lesson, including any outlines, reviews, and the quiz. The only exception is the assigned textbook reading(s).

Lesson

Topic

1

Building the Cultural Landscape
- Building a Geographic Foundation for the Course
- Regions and Processes

2

Atlantic Periphery
- Physical Framework
-- Topography, Climate, Soil, Vegetation
-- Resources
-- Bridging the Physical and Human Landscapes
- Historical Settlement
- Cultural Settlement

3

Quebec
- Physical Framework
-- Topography, Climate, Soil, Vegetation
-- Resources
-- Bridging the Physical and Human Landscapes
- Historical Settlement
- Cultural Settlement

4

Megalopolis
- Physical Framework
-- Topography, Climate, Soil, Vegetation
-- Resources
-- Bridging the Physical and Human Landscapes
- Historical Settlement
- Cultural Settlement

5

Great Lakes and Corn Belt
- Physical Framework
-- Topography, Climate, Soil, Vegetation
-- Resources
-- Bridging the Physical and Human Landscapes
- Historical Settlement
- Cultural Settlement

6

Inland South
- Physical Framework
-- Topography, Climate, Soil, Vegetation
-- Resources
-- Bridging the Physical and Human Landscapes
- Historical Settlement
- Cultural Settlement

7

Coastal South
- Physical Framework
-- Topography, Climate, Soil, Vegetation
-- Resources
-- Bridging the Physical and Human Landscapes
- Historical Settlement
- Cultural Settlement

8

Great Plains and Rocky Mountain Region
- Physical Framework
-- Topography, Climate, Soil, Vegetation
-- Resources
-- Bridging the Physical and Human Landscapes
- Historical Settlement
- Cultural Settlement

9

Intermontane West and MexAmerica
- Physical Framework
-- Topography, Climate, Soil, Vegetation
-- Resources
-- Bridging the Physical and Human Landscapes
- Historical Settlement
- Cultural Settlement

10

California
- Physical Framework
-- Topography, Climate, Soil, Vegetation
-- Resources
-- Bridging the Physical and Human Landscapes
- Historical Settlement
- Cultural Settlement

11

Pacific Northwest
- Physical Framework
-- Topography, Climate, Soil, Vegetation
-- Resources
-- Bridging the Physical and Human Landscapes
- Historical Settlement
- Cultural Settlement

12

Pacific and Far North
- Physical Framework
-- Topography, Climate, Vegetation, Soil
-- Natural Resources
-- Focus on Climate Change
- Historical Settlement
-- Native populations and the Arrival of Europeans
-- Annexation
- Cultural Settlement
- Living in Hawai'i and Alaska

Supplemental websites, articles, and media

Throughout the online lessons, you will be provided with supplemental web links, which may direct you to an article, website, interactive, video, or other online media. The lesson will indicate whether links are required or optional. Required direction boxes will either say "At this time...", and provide you with instructions about further activities, or "A follow-up...", and provide you with further information about a concept introduced in the lesson material. You are required to complete the assignments in each of these direction boxes. Some quiz questions will be derived directly from websites that you are required to visit. Features such as "A side note…" boxes or the "Above and Beyond" sections are optional. In such cases, exploration of these sites will increase your understanding of the subject matter and may help you with the quizzes.

Review quizzes

Each graded quiz has an associated review quiz for you to use to prepare. It will be available for you to take as many times as you need. The purpose of the review quiz is to help you assess (for yourself) what you have learned, to get accustomed to quiz questions, and to get used to taking online quizzes in D2L. Review quizzes are not graded. Completing review quizzes can (and will) only help you on a graded quiz and will demonstrate to your Instructor that you are interested in learning the course material.

Assessments

Quizzes

There are 12 quizzes during the semester, one for each online lesson. Quizzes are based on the lesson, all of its associated content, and assigned textbook readings. The dates of the quizzes are listed on the course schedule. Each quiz will be offered during a large window of time (Eastern Time) on the dates specified on the schedule. You may log into the quiz at any time during that window. Once logged in, you have a set time limit to complete your quiz and submit it.

You will be notified of an upcoming quiz on the course home page (announcements/calendar) and provided with further details about the quiz (time limit, number of questions, and so on) via email leading up to the date of the first quiz.

You are expected to treat the online quizzes as you would a quiz in a traditional lecture class--the quiz is yours to take, without help from anyone else. If you work together on quizzes we consider that cheating and appropriate action will be taken. Quizzes are open-note and open-text and you may consult both of these sources while taking the quiz. Be forewarned: having an 'open-book' quiz does not release you from studying! Quizzes are timed and if you are not prepared you will spend your time trying to find the answers. Also note that your Instructor and other administrators CAN and DO monitor your quiz logs before, during, and after you have taken the quiz - they can detect patterns consistent with cheating and have the authority to discuss the matter with you immediately. Official grades, answers, and explanations for the quiz are provided on the course website about 4-7 days following the quiz.

Quizzes will consist of both essay and multiple-choice questions, with some T/F or short answer questions as well.  All quiz questions are selected at random from a larger pool of questions. All answer options for each question are also ordered at random. Please take note that your quiz is unique and completely unlike any other student's quiz. Attempting to cheat on the quizzes violates the University/course’s academic integrity policies AND is a total waste of time due to the uniqueness of each student’s quiz.

Make-up quizzes: Make-up sessions are only allowed in certain circumstances. If a quiz is missed due to a medical/health emergency, a doctor’s note may be requested in order to arrange a makeup. Also, a makeup can be scheduled if the Instructor is notified at least ONE WEEK before the quiz date of a scheduling conflict. I cannot stress this enough: you MUST contact your Instructor IMMEDIATELY to set up a makeup. Otherwise, you will miss your opportunity to take a makeup and receive 0 points for the quiz.

Regional journals

You are required to submit three Regional Journal entries (about a region of the United States and Canada) via the D2L course website. Journal entries will be due every couple of weeks (see Course Schedule).  Each complete journal entry must be submitted (that is, uploaded to a dropbox in D2L) by 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) on the date specified on the Course Schedule. You are strongly encouraged to submit your responses in advance of the due date and time.

You will be assigned to a region at random at the beginning of the session and you will focus on that one region for all three journal entries. Each entry will have detailed instructions available to you in D2L for constructing your response, including all of the necessary requirements. Each entry is worth a possible 15 points and will be graded based on how well you answer the question, as set forth in the assignment rubric.

The following applies to all assignments in this course:

Grading. As with any course, it is the responsibility of the Instructor to uphold the standards suggested by the grading rubrics. While your grade is determined by assessing the quality of your assignment compared to the grading rubric, the grading process is subject to the rigor of the Instructor.

Sources and citations. These assignments have been designed to provide you with the opportunity to reflect upon a topic discussed in class on a more personal level. We do not want to read your unfounded and unsupported opinion about an issue. You must support your ideas and opinions with credible, properly referenced sources, with Chicago Manual of Style being the preferred format.

Plagiarism. We use Turnitin originality checker software to detect plagiarism in work submitted by students. If your response contains ANY reference material (including online lesson material or other students' responses) without being properly cited, you will be given a zero and we will submit an Academic Dishonesty Report to the Registrar’s Office, which then becomes a part of your permanent MSU academic record. You DO have access to the Turnitin report -- we recommend that you use this service to scan your work prior to submitting it for grades.

Late submissions. Work submitted within 1 day of the due date will be accepted, but graded for only half credit. Submissions will not be accepted after the 1-day-late window; these students will receive 0 points.

Missing submissions. Once you have uploaded a submission, you have the ability to exit the course and then return to the assignment dropbox to verify that your file has been submitted. Your activity is tracked in D2L and, once uploaded, files do not disappear. There is no excuse;  if you do not have a  submission, you will not receive a grade.

Course Policies:

MSU privacy statement (and use of course materials)

From the D2L Help Page (2017):

MSU expects that you will respect the rights of faculty and other students as you participate in the educational process. Participating in an D2L course means that you may have access to personal information and academic work produced by other students and faculty members, such as discussion board postings, drafts of papers and other work produced in the course. Academic norms and MSU policy require that you must not reveal any information about classmates, coursework content, or its authors to anyone outside the course.

Students should be aware that their use of D2L materials and communication tools in a particular course may be observed and recorded by the instructor of that course. These observations and records may include a student's access to online library materials linked through the D2L course website. Use of these observations and records must conform to the use and release of confidential student records as described in Michigan State University's Access to Student Information. Students may link to library resources directly, without linking through D2L, using the Library website.

ALL of our course material in D2L is copyrighted property of Michigan State University. This means that ALL course material in the course site is protected and, other than one copy of the material for your own personal use, this material should not be distributed or posted in any form.

If material (lessons/assignments/exams/et cetera) from the course site is posted outside of D2L it is considered misuse of the material, therefore, the course staff can give you a 0 (even after the fact) for the assignment from which the material came.


Academic honesty

From Academic Integrity: MSU Policies, Regulations and Ordinances Regarding Academic Honesty and Integrity (Michigan State University's Office of the Ombudsperson, Faculty FAQ, 2017):

Article 2.III.B.2 of the SRR states: “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, the Department of Geography, Environment, & Spatial Sciences adheres to the policies on academic honesty specified in General Student Regulation 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations.

Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit coursework you completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course.  Also, you are not authorized to use the www.allmsu.com Web site to complete any course work in this course. Students who violate MSU regulations on Protection of Scholarship and Grades will receive a failing grade in the course or on the assignment.

Faculty are required to report all instances in which a penalty grade is given for academic dishonesty.  Students reported for academic dishonesty are required to take an online course about the integrity of scholarship and grades.  A hold will be placed on the student's account until such time as the student completes the course.  This course is overseen by the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a specific type of academic misconduct defined as the effort to fundamentally use someone else's ideas as your own. Studies show that plagiarism is common at most universities, especially in online classes since it is easy to copy directly from the course site (or other websites) and put those exact words, or most of the words, in an answer. When completing written work, including answering essay questions on quizzes/exams and writing assignments, it is essential that you provide references where needed (that is, you properly cite all information that did not come from you) and that your responses are phrased in your OWN, original words. Failure to properly cite course materials (lessons and the textbook, if applicable) and using your own work previously submitted in another course without permission,  are also unacceptable. If your Instructor suspects that part or all of an answer has been plagiarized in any way or form, you will be contacted immediately--plagiarized content is given 0 points.

According to Michigan State University's Office of the Ombudsperson (2017),

Plagiarism may be accidental or blatant or self-plagiarism.  However, students are held to the same standards whether or not they knew they were plagiarizing or whether or not they were plagiarizing themselves or someone else.

It is your responsibility to read and understand course policies (like those provided here) and educate yourself so that you know what actions are considered acts of plagiarism (and academic misconduct, in general). A short quiz about academic plagiarism is located in the Getting Started folder of the course.  We strongly encourage you to read the associated materials and take the quiz prior to beginning the course. Please be conscientious of academic integrity and do not hesitate to contact your Instructor if you have any questions.

Spartan Code of Honor

As a Spartan, I will strive to uphold values of the highest ethical standard. I will practice honesty in my work, foster honesty in my peers, and take pride in knowing that honor is worth more than grades. I will carry these values beyond my time as a student at Michigan State University, continuing the endeavor to build personal integrity in all that I do. (honorcode.msu.edu)

Student conduct that is inconsistent with the academic pledge is addressed through existing policies, regulations, and ordinances governing academic honesty and integrity: MSU Policies, Regulations and Ordinances Regarding Academic Honesty and Integrity.

Any student who commits an act of academic misconduct (including academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, or falsification of academic records; click here to read the University policy), will be reported to the University via the Academic Dishonestly Report portal. The type of misconduct and penalty, as well as a detailed account of the violation are submitted and will be accessible to the student’s Associate Dean, designee, and Instructor-of-Record.

Grading:

Calculating your final grades

Your final grade will be based on your scores from all 12 quizzes and 3 regional-journal entries. Here is the breakdown:

Assessment

Points

12 Quizzes (15 points each)

180

3 Regional Journal Entries (15 points each)

45

Maximum number of points for the class

225

Final grades will be based on the following scale:

Percent

Grade

91-100

4.0

85-90

3.5

79-84

3.0

73-78

2.5

67-72

2.0

61-66

1.5

55-60

1.0

< 55

0.0

You can view your grades by going to Assessments > Grades.

Extra credit

Given the number of assessments and abbreviated length of the summer session, no extra credit work will be considered.

GEO330-V: Geography of the U.S. and Canada, Online                Summer 2017: First Session: Schedule

Important Dates

M, May 29: No Class  |  Th, May 25: Last Day for Tuition Refund  |   W, June 7: Middle of Semester

Regional Journal Schedule

Tu, May 30        Entry 1 due by 11:59 PM (ET)        (15 points)

Tu, June 13        Entry 2 due by 11:59 PM (ET)        (15 points)

Tu, June 27        Entry 3 due by 11:59 PM (ET)        (15 points)

Week

Lesson

Selected Readings From**:

5/15

L1. Building a Landscape

Chapters 1 and 4

        Quiz 1: Due Th, May 18*        (Covers all  materials from Lesson 1)

5/18

L2. Atlantic Periphery

Chapter 5

        Quiz 2: Due Th, May 25*        (Covers all  materials from Lesson 2)

5/18

L3. Quebec

Chapter 6

(Entrance Questionnaire is due Tuesday, May 23)                                                                

Quiz 3: Th, May 25*                (Covers all  materials from Lesson 3)

5/25

L4. Megalopolis

Chapters 7

           Quiz 4: Th, June 1*                (Covers all  materials from Lesson 4)

6/1

L5. Great Lakes and Corn Belt

Chapter 8

        Quiz 5: Due Th, June 8*        (Covers all  materials from Lesson 5)

6/1

L6. Inland South

Chapter 9

        Quiz 6: Due Th, June 8*        (Covers all  materials from Lesson 6)

6/8

L7. Coastal South

Chapter 10

        Quiz 7: Due Th, June 15*        (Covers all  materials from Lesson 7)

6/8

L8. Great Plains and Rocky Mountain Region

Chapters 11 & 12

        Quiz 8: Due Th, June 15*        (Covers all  materials from Lesson 8)

6/15

L9. Intermontane West & MexAmerica

Chapters 13 & 14

        Quiz 9: Due Th, June 22*        (Covers all  materials from Lesson 9)

6/15

L10. California

Chapter 15

        Quiz 10: Due Th, June 22*        (Covers all  materials from Lesson 10)

6/22

L11. Pacific Northwest

Chapter 16

Quiz 11: Due Th, June 29*        (Covers all  materials from Lesson 11)

6/22

L12. Pacific and Far North

Chapters 17 & 18

        Quiz 12: Due Th, June 29*        (Covers all  materials from Lesson 12)

* Quiz 1 opens on the first day of class. All other quizzes open at 12 noon (ET) on Friday the week before they are due and must be submitted by 11:59 PM (ET) on the date given.
** These are the chapters from which your readings are assigned. Check the first page of each lesson for the specific pages assigned to you as required reading.