OER Geology

Open Educational Resources for Geology Courses

Grand Canyon image from the National Park Service, Public Domain

Current Project: “The Story of Earth: An Observational Guide”

An OER lab manual for historical geology

Lead Author: Daniel Hauptvogel, Ph.D., Instructional Assistant Professor, University of Houston, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Co-author: Jinny Sisson, Ph.D., Instructional Professor, University of Houston, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Contributor: Carlos Andrade, Graduate Student, University of Houston, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Contributor: Josh Flores, Graduate Student, University of Houston, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

OER Manager: Ariana Santiago, Assistant Librarian, University of Houston

About the Project

The idea for this lab manual came from the lack of available texts and resources that we felt suited the needs of our teaching style and class. While there are plenty of options available, we felt that none were truly worth the cost to our students. Hence, we envisioned a completely customized lab manual that speaks to the nature of our teaching philosophy, one that gives our students a quality education and encourages them to observe and think about the world around them. Our Earth has a complicated evolution that needs stories and observations for students to understand.

You can preview our first 2 chapters below. Please note these are still in development and are likely to change.

We welcome all participants and potential volunteers. Our needs are various, from exercise, image, and data contributors to a copy editor. Please fill out the contact form below if interested.


The level of this text will be geared towards students in introductory level geology courses. Our hope is that other professors will see our passion for teaching within this lab manual and consider adopting it for their own courses.

About the Content

Through our own teaching experiences we have found that students have difficulty making observations and interpreting them. Perhaps this is a result of the plethora of standardized tests students must take throughout their primary school career, but nonetheless it is a problem that we have observed. Our goal in creating the material for this lab manual is to focus heavily on students making observations of geologic data, whether that be rocks, minerals, fossils, maps, graphs, and other things.

The current chapter layout is as follows:

  1. Plate Tectonics (1 week lab)
  2. Minerals and Rocks (1 week lab)
  3. Geologic Time (1 week lab)
  4. Sedimentary Structures (1 week lab)
  5. Stratigraphy (1 week lab)
  6. Fossil Preservation (1 week lab)
  7. Fossils (2 week lab)
  8. Paleoenvironments (1 week lab)
  9. Geologic Structures and Mapping (1 week lab)
  10. Geologic Maps (2 week lab)
  11. Paleoclimate (1 week lab)

Using PressBooks as our platform, the lab manual will be readily available for students to view online, download, or print copies for themselves. We plan to include a detailed instructor manual as well as an image bank. We will provide maps, data sets, photographs and links to online resources such as fossil databases. At this time, we are not going to offer quizzes or tests as we encourage you to have a hands-on mode of instruction for all labs.


This lab manual will carry a CC BY-NC-SA license. Others are free remix, adapt, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and license their new creations under the identical terms.

 See Creative Commons website.

The Team

This project is led by Dr. Daniel Hauptvogel and Dr. Jinny Sisson, instructional faculty in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department of the University of Houston. Two graduate students, Carlos Andrade and Josh Flores, have contributed significantly to the development of exercises in this lab manual. Ariana Santiago is the OER coordinator for our campus library and has helped with the logistics of this journey. We are also guided by our colleagues, Dr. Rosalie Maddocks, former professor for this lab and Dr. Peter Copeland, who is writing a text for a lecture course. All inquiries should be directed to Dan Hauptvogel (dwhauptvogel@uh.edu) or by completing the inquiry form below.


This project is supported by the Alternative Textbook Incentive Program at the University of Houston.

We have also joined a recent cohort of the Rebus Community, a group of like-minded individuals who want to create and share OER.


We began planning the lab manual in the Spring 2019 semester, with the development of most exercises in the Fall 2019 semester. Currently (Spring 2020) we are editing and finalizing the exercises, finding appropriate media, and writing text for the manual. Our goal is to have a beta version available for our own students for the Fall 2020 semester and then fully available for all interested parties for the Spring 2021 semester. We hope to find several peer reviewers to help for the Fall 2020 semester as well.

How to Get Involved

If you are interested in providing content, exercises, images, etc., we would be happy to speak with you about it and add you as a contributor. We are also interested in finding peer reviewers for the chapters, which will be available in the Fall 2020 semester. If you would like to provide content or peer review a chapter, please contact Dan Hauptvogel (dwhauptvogel@uh.edu) or Jinny Sisson (vbsisson@uh.edu), or complete the inquiry form below.

Measures of Success

This is an ongoing discussion, but our success will be determined by the student and instructor feedback from our courses. We plan to offer a survey with a range of questions about what they liked and didn’t like about the book. Another measure will be if instructors from other universities adopt our lab manual.

Send us a message

Do you want to contribute material for our work? Or maybe just want to ask us a question? Fill out this form below.

Join our email list

Keep up to date on our progress with OER Geology and our current project, “The Story of Earth: An Observational Guide”, an OER lab manual for historical geology by joining our email list.

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