FRS 124 and FRS 135 State of the Earth: Shifts and Cycles

Professors: Adam C. Maloof and Frederik J. Simons

In this Freshman Seminar, students combine field observations of the natural world with quantitative modeling and interpretation to answer questions like: How have Earth and human histories been recorded in the geology of Princeton, the Catskills, and France/Spain, and what experiments can you do to query such archives of the past? In the classroom, through problem sets, and around campus, students gain practical experience collecting geological and geophysical data in geographic context, and analyzing these data using statistical techniques such as regression and time series analysis, with the programming language Matlab. During the required one-day trip to the Catskills and week-long Fall break trip to France/Spain, you will engage in research projects that focus on the cycles and shifts in Earth's shape, climate, and life that occur now on timescales of days, and have been recorded in rocks over timescales of millions of years. The classroom component of this Freshman Seminar will have graded (bi)weekly assignments built around on-campus data collection, data preparation or analysis, and scientific programming. A significant part of student assessment comes from writing assignments that teach students to communicate scientific results, and culminate in an original research paper and an oral presentation for an audience of peers, Freshman Seminar alumni, and invited guests from the university community.

FRS 124 - Spring 2017 Student Evaluations

1. Please comment on the quality of class discussion, including the extent of student participation.

Adam and Frederik are great.

The profs are very receptive to questions during lecture and during the trip. It's encouraging, although some of the lectures are a bit inaccessible without a science background.

We had few discussions in the class, but the field trip talks were fantastic.

Class time was organized extremely well and there was ample opportunity to participate in discussion and ask for clarification.

Class discussion was mostly dominated by the boys (whether or not they knew what they were talking about) but I guess that means there was participation.

Student participation in our seminar was pretty limited, often to the same handful of kids. However, this improved after the trip over break and was largely due to our personalities. I do think that the fact that discussion always started with students who understood the material better made it difficult for me to later ask more basic questions, but this is less of a commentary on the professors' outline of the course and more on an issue that arose early on.

It took a while for the class to feel comfortable in asking questions and participating in lively discussion. The professors loved answering questions and if anything, expected more. Participation was encouraged, and discussions really became better after the trip.

High quality, students were encouraged to comment and engage critically with other students. We often were given "puzzles" to solve in the field that would motivate our work.

Most of the students, including myself, lacked the geosciences knowledge to really engage in class discussions. The topics in the class were also very quantitative, with difficulty going beyond what my classmates and me are capable of. Student participation was most active when we went on the field trip and had to really nail down our research plans. The participation extends well outside of classroom setting, when a lot of us decided to work on labs and projects together. Otherwise, the classroom setting discussion is very minimal.

One of the great things about seminar was the fact that students got the freedom to guess and discuss possible answers to geoscience questions before getting the right answer, if they got any. We were encouraged to ask questions which would benefit our and our peers' research, regardless of whether our fellow students and professors had answers to those Qs. Class discussion was invaluable and absolutely essential to the seminar.

While the professors were very engaged in class and very willing to answer questions, there was minimal student participation during lectures: mostly because the subject matter was outside the scope of our academic experience

2. Seminars are taught by a variety of methods. In your opinion, was the presentation of the material appropriate to the subject matter of the seminar?

Yes, and the methods used in this seminar are especially unique. The trip is well-organized but the research is very self- and team-directed rather than guided by the professors. I wish some of the earlier lectures were a bit more relevant to the team research projects.

Lecturing is effective for science.

Yes, the presentation of the material was appropriate. We covered all the necessary background information, and we had the opportunity to pursue topics further if we were interested.

The matlab-learning parts were taught well, the more sciency-stuff at the end of the semester was very confusing.

Yes, I think the lecture-lab structure worked - even though this is a seminar, all of this material was so new to me that any other format would have felt weird. That said, the lectures often felt incredibly disjointed from the rest of the course. Even when topics did relate to our later research (e.g., dune formation), I feel like the connection was never addressed. Classes felt stressful and a bit overwhelming because I never knew what was coming next. Even just saying "this is what we'll be doing today" before lecture would have helped. As I said, I think there could have been a clearer connection between before the trip, during the trip, and after the trip - it's hard to retain a lot of information when you don't really get why you're learning it. Maybe introducing the research topics sooner would have helped me find the connections on my own?

I enjoyed the first trip around campus to become familiar with the GPS, the hand lens and accurate note-taking (though I think the second and third trips were unnecessary). The keynote presentations during class were amazingly organized, and to the same standards that the professors expect of our own presentations, which was a nice touch. The part I enjoyed most were the writing conferences and learning about how to write an effective essay in the sciences. It felt like a great writing seminar, freshman seminar and field trip rolled into one.

Yes. The information was extremely important to our coursework and also widely applicable.

Yes, but I still find that some accessible required readings beforehand would have braced us better for the difficult presentation topics. I'd say a lot of the presentation topics felt very impromptu and I would have appreciated an outline of topics we'll be learning in the course syllabus.

The seminar is very computation and programming intensive, and the material is often taught through MATLAB labs. Though it may be overwhelming at first, I think this is an appropriate way of teaching and studying shifts and cycles of Earth.

The presentation in lecture format was appropriate, but it was difficult to follow each week's lecture and how they related to each other: in other words, it was difficult to comprehend how each lecture topic related to the next.

3. Was the amount of reading assigned each week about right, and were the selections appropriate?

The only true reading was reading for the trip, and this was a lot. I wish we were able to start it earlier/informed of some of the papers we would need to read earlier to better guide our research.

We had little reading.

There was not a lot of reading to do in this course, but the scientific papers that we did have to read helped me learn more about academic writing in general.


I would have liked to know the papers we were reading for our field trip earlier, so we weren't presented with about 20 to read in the span of a day and a plane ride. Of course, they were all well chosen, but I would have liked some teaching on how to critically read and analyze a scientific paper, to complement our teaching on how to write one.

There definitely could've been less work overall. It was a lot of swim-or-sink sort of teaching, which was unnecessarily difficult.

This is one of the few times I wished there were assigned readings. Instead jumping straight into geo-papers with a lot of unfamiliar key terms, the course could better prepare us with knowing the basics... hence the need for readings (something like, geosciences-for-dummies, type of reading).

The was not much reading assigned to us in the beginning of the seminar, but I think some additional short readings would help us to digest the material covered in the class better. Also, the amount of reading we had to do right before and during the trip was quite tremendous. While I understand that it was essential for a quality research project, maybe something could be done to distribute that reading over some longer time period.


4. Comment on the amount of writing and the pacing of the assignments. Did you receive helpful criticism? Do you believe that the seminar improved your writing skills?

The criticism in this class is harsh, precise, and everything you could ever ask for. It definitely improved my scientific writing skills. The pacing of the assignments is a little insane, and I definitely regret taking it with the other time-consuming classes I'm in.

We had an appropriate amount of writing. I wish that we had started the final writing assignment earlier so that it was not packed when we had busy schedules at the end of the semester.

The criticism in this course is one of the best things available. Adam and Frederik are genuinely concerned with helping you improve your writing. Their comments helped me to become a better scientific writer. In terms of the pacing of the assignments, I thought it was just fine.

There was a lot of work but I feel that it was paced consistently if nothing else. The feedback I received was definitely helpful. I think my scientific writing skills have improved.

The pace was a lot more difficult post-trip because of the two simultaneous projects. Additionally, by that point I often felt like I was spending nights re-learning Matlab that I had theoretically learned before the trip, and then didn't get to spend as much time on writing. Part of this might have been helped by assignments before the trip forcing me to learn the code better (not being able to copy it verbatim) might have made me not have to do this later. In terms of writing, I definitely improved in scientific writing, which is a useful skill that I'm glad I got to learn thanks to thorough feedback and being constantly challenged.

The pacing was very good, but it was very demanding. I felt like I would always put a lot of effort into these assignments and it was certainly a lot more work than any other freshman sem. We received helpful criticism in abundance, especially when both professors looked over a piece of work. The office hours were well attended and the professors were forthcoming in giving out advice.

I definitely received helpful criticism and feedback. My sense for science writing improved massively. The final paper was difficult and quickly paced, but helpful.

The assignments in the first half of the course were MATLAB based lab assignments, and they felt more than foreign. Despite the good intent of cody course-work, I still struggled with learning MATLAB. I think the problem lies with us being given MATLAB codes beforehand. I tried reading the codes but I just felt myself modifying codes instead of writing them. It would be helpful if the labs were projects in which we had to write the codes; start simple and then have us take on harder ones requiring more complicated codes. The research writing assignment towards the end of the semester was especially demanding. Part of it is due to the nature of Princeton's limited spring semester schedule with no breaks throughout April. But a lot of it is the expectation that we need to present a group project (based on data from our trip) AND write an individual paper at the same time. I wonder if it would have been more helpful to have the paper due before the trip (while it is true that many of us are still acquiring MATLAB skill at that stage, I can see the paper as a good motivation to have the students make learning MATLAB more personal and applicable towards a goal being the paper). Lastly, it is no secret that the criticisms from both Adam and Frederik are extremely harsh. We become used to them, but quite surprisingly, I find that my peers and me still care about the class very much. We get bad grades that seem to wash our hard work down the drain, but at the same time, we do seek to do better, and that is reflected in our group presentation. My LATEX and MATLAB skills definitely improved after the individual paper and group presentation; there was no way they wouldn't, given the high expectations of the course in general. In short, the assignments were overwhelming but effective at the end as they are a method to the course's madness.

The seminar was fairly writing-intensive in the second part of the semester. The course does a good job of teaching what scientific writing is and how to communicate research findings. I often found criticism both very harsh and helpful, and I believe it did improve my scientific writing skills.

Weekly writing assignments for the second half of the semester were fast paced. Feedback received from professors was helpful although more conferences would have helped better (had one conference with professor).

5. Please comment on in-class and out-of-class assignments, hands-on activities, trips, and other kinds of special opportunities, and describe how important they were to the Freshman Seminar.

The trip is legendary. It's also exhausting, preparation's essential.

The spring break field trip has been the high point of my Princeton experience to-date. I learned so much after doing hands-on geology research.

The trip to France and Spain is the crux of this seminar. Though it is exhausting, it teaches you how to work effectively in a team and what gathering real data in the field is like.

The trip was amazing and hard and definitely worth it. The entire second half of the semester depended on the work we did over the trip so I'd say it was important.

The trip was so great! As I said earlier, I would have liked to have known more about it ahead of time, as well as on the trip (as a very structured person, I was not comfortable with not having any kind of itinerary other than "we're going to France, then Spain"). However, the trip was a cool opportunity to learn what it's like to conduct research, and though it was tiring and a little stressful to not go home this semester, I'm really glad I had the chance to go and get to know my classmates better.

The 9 day trip to France and Spain was the highlight of the trip, but not for the reasons one would expect. It was not a tourist trip, so I would advise people not to choose this course just for the travel. Instead, it was an amazing bonding time with peers and I valued the small group discussion and one-on-ones with the professors. It was like an extreme outdoor action trip. Also, I learned a lot about geological field methods, and how to collect good data and analyze it. Even after only 6 weeks of class I felt adequately prepared to undertake research. This class is the epitome of Freshman Seminars.

The fall break trip was grueling, but also very interesting. The weather was unfortunate, but the trip was an important experience. The trip to France and Spain and being thrown into the open fields to do field work definitely made the trip worth it. I've not only gotten closer to the individuals in the class but the professors as well.

The MATLAB assignments were pretty difficult in the first half of the semester, but as I found later their difficulty was justified later, when we started working on our individual projects. The spring break trip was undoubtedly the highlight of the seminar. The places we traveled to were absolutely beautiful and of great interest for geoscience students, and the trip allowed us to appreciate all the effort that goes into scientific work.

Matlab coding, Latex text editing and the spring break trip to France and Spain all made the class a unique learning experience.

6. Please use this space to tell us anything you want to about the seminar.

Learning Matlab was very difficult, especially for people who had no prior programming experience. I would suggest that either another one hour class is devoted to teaching Matlab, apart from the weekly help sessions, or more training courses are given to students during the break before the class begins.

This is one of those courses that you do not think you will survive during the semester, but afterwards will make you feel very glad that you took it. In short, you will learn a lot, and I am not just talking about academic material.

This was my hardest class this semester by far.

Take it to learn about how to write a good scientific essay, how to collect good data in the field, how to work with others and critique their findings, and to manage a large but rewarding workload. Don't take it just for a free trip!

Definitely a good experience, but very difficult at times. I took this as my 5th course and it made other classes too hard to handle (my math grade suffered because of it). That being said, it provides a freshman class that has a strong focus on science writing, something that is missing otherwise (writing seminars don't provide this experience in reality).

While it was never understated how hard the class was, I don't think most students coming in understood what kind of "hard" it really entails. It'd be helpful if the professors include an outline of the topics and events in the course syllabus with expected MATLAB skills to be learnt. It's really uncomfortable to find out things the day before. While there is appeal in the learn-it-as-we-go style in the course, there needs to be a more organized, detailed course syllabus.

To whoever is going to take this course, be aware that this course is very fulfilling (especially when you get that MATLAB code work!), but it will require a LOT(!!!) of your time. So if you are ready to commit to it, then definitely take it.

As a science class, I think the seminar should be split into two weekly components. The lectures and labs covered completely different material, and having them in the same 3 hour-block threw most of us into a weekly, and perpetual, pit of confusion. I felt that I would have learned better if the lectures and labs were split up

7. In thinking about the overall quality of the course, please comment on what you got out of the course. What did the instructor do particularly well, and in what ways might the course be improved?

I think the support for the personal paper should be ratcheted up. The timeline should be decompressed. This may have been a consequence of running the class in the spring. The fall is more spread out.

By taking this course, I learned how to use MATLAB and LaTeX, how to ask better questions, and how to work more effectively in a team. Adam and Frederik will teach you so much but only if you reach out to them personally. As with all things, you get out what you put in.

I feel I learned a good amount of matlab and latex, and a bit about science writing. Frederik was a great and helpful teacher of matlab, very patient and understanding. Adam gave good feedback on assignments.

This course was really challenging, and while I appreciate the challenge now that I've finished the course, there were weeks when it was just overwhelming. I am really grateful to have gone on the trip, made new friends, and learned skills I would not have learned otherwise. But I do have some thoughts regarding the structure of the class that might make it easier to enjoy the challenge without feeling overwhelmed all the time. I understand the value of learning to work in a group and of writing a scientific paper, but working on these simultaneously was very difficult mostly because I couldn't get excited about another random topic while I was so heavily involved in trying to work with a group. What if we could have written on the research we did on the trip individually, and presented that as a group? In the end I was very proud of my paper, but I think this set up might have been better in the fall when students would have had an extra three weeks to revise their paper, as there are things I still wish I could change about my paper. Overall, I am very grateful that I took this challenge on, and am proud of myself. But I also think that it's difficult for this seminar to attract students (who aren't already into GEO) to the department when certain weeks felt like I couldn't enjoy the interesting material because I was trying to balance finding new data, writing a paper about it, working on a group project, teaching myself and my group how to use Matlab, etc. Challenges are great, but sometimes I doubted the effectiveness of this one. This really ended up being a great seminar, but not without a lot of stress that sometimes felt unnecessary.

I became a lot more methodical because of the course. I learned to motivate every piece of work I write. It was great preparation for junior and senior independent work in that I got to direct the research for two days. It was taught extremely well, and the professors really try to bring out the best in you. It was unfortunate but necessary that the course workload was very high before the trip and tailed off a bit afterwards, but I think the amount and length of assignments was manageable, even in a 5 class semester.

The instructors taught us a massive amount of important and useful information, widely applicable beyond the geosciences. However, there was too much of a "sink-or-swim" attitude to the class--the expectations were unattainable and the amount of work was insane.

There is no denying that both instructors were very qualified and enthusiastic. Now I cannot look at rocks the same way again, nor would I ever underestimate little details such as ripples on a sand dune. I've also gotten really memorable experiences (such as seeing real-time avalanches) and meaningful friendships and mentorships out of the trip. I don't think I'd ever go to the places we did in France and Spain even if I've earned the means to in the future, if it weren't for this course; this makes the course uniquely a geosciences freshman seminar at Princeton experience. The course just needs to recognize that while harsh criticisms do reflect that the professors only want the best from the students, the students not meeting all expectations does not necessarily mean the students do not care. I've never been in a classroom where my peers care so much, even though the end feedbacks may not reflect so. Thus, the professors can show a more understanding side at times.

I learnt more about physical processes on Earth and beyond, and about fieldwork, became fairly familiar with MATLAB, improved my skills of scientific writing, and managed to get done large amounts of work in short time.

I learned how to write scientific papers, how to code using Matlab language, how to write documents using a professional compiler, and how to handle a heavy and difficult work load. The instructors were good at encouraging and answering questions, and were invested in making the class an amazing learning experience.

FRS 135 - Fall 2015 Student Evaluations

1. Please comment on the quality of class discussion, including the extent of student participation.

There wasn't always a class discussion; the structure was set up to be more of lectures but when our professors did pose us questions, students were sometimes shy to answer.

It's an STL so we didn't do that much discussion. We talked about the readings but we mostly went over the Matlab programming. Moreover, the discussions weren't easy to understand if you don't have a strong science background or strong interest in rocks.

The class was run much more lecture style than anticipated. Though they were informative, the lectures were often long and confusing, as they introduced entirely new concepts with often little context.

Adam lectures amazingly well, just as well as he tells stories. The lectures are engaging, and students participate a fair amount.

Class discussion was usually a lecture, during which students asked clarifying questions. It was usually very fast paced and included a lot of information. However, the professors were very eager to answer questions, and treated us like intelligent students who could handle lots of new information.

Very in depth student participation. Class discussion was good, although sometimes we didn't completely understand all the science research so there was less participation than could have been.

Students could participate very easily in discussions. I think almost everyone contributed at some point or another.

Class is extremely fast paced and thorough

There was a very significant amount of student participation and discussion in this class. We had two field trips where it was crucial to interact with other students as well as with the professors and TAs. I found discussion to be very enlightening.

The discussions based on the readings were valuable and added to the class. Students participated and were engaged in the topics.

2. Seminars are taught by a variety of methods. In your opinion, was the presentation of the material appropriate to the subject matter of the seminar?


The material presented in this seminar should not have been in a freshman seminar. The professors assigned extraneous amounts of work and also had unrealistically high standards for grading everything. I found it highly problematic that we were expected to learn how to use Matlab and LaTex perfectly, although we only got hour long tutorials on it every week. Moreover, the presentation of the actual scientific content was also quite boring and in lecture style. It was not easy to understand nor was it interesting.

The material was all scientific and numerical, and was presented as such. There was not a lot to "discuss," as there was not much up for debate. The time the professors gave us during class to work on projects with their guidance was extremely helpful, though.

Yes, definitely. We went out on campus to look at rocks and minerals and identified them firsthand, both during class and during fall break trip.

During the seminar, there were many different ways we were exposed to information. At times, the amount of information felt like too much to handle at once, especially during a fast paced lecture. However, during our field trip abroad during fall break, there was a lot of hands on learning and field work. It was during this time that a lot of the material clicked and came together for me in a real way.

Yes. We read several interesting papers covering a variety to topics within the overall topic of Geology.

Presentation of the material was very well done. Sometimes it was disjointed because there wasn't really a set "syllabus", but based off of our interests and projects.


There were conflicting teaching styles between the two professors teaching this course. They even admitted at times that their styles were different and that they were working on new methods every week. That being said, presentation of material was usually effective; however, I found that a few lectures ran a bit long (especially those pertaining to coding).

The lectures were incredibly interesting but too fast passed to be as meaningful. There was just too much information to be able to take in. The trip, however, was able to cement many of the concepts that had been mentioned before (even if we forgot we had ever learned it). <br/><br/>The presentation of matlab coding could be improved by not having us follow along with our computers. It made it so that when one line of code wouldn't it would be very easy to fall far behind and then later not understand why or how the majority of the sample codes worked. Because the correct code was normally given to us anyway, I think that it would have been more valuable if we had just followed along on a paper copy so that we could understand how each part worked step by step and not worry about coding ourselves until outside of class.

Yes, all of the in-class lectures were appropriate to our studies. Both Frederik's Matlab sessions and Adam's geo presentations were very informative and helpful for the class.

3. Was the amount of reading assigned each week about right, and were the selections appropriate?


We had a pre-read assignment due on the first day that was way too long. Everything else was really long too and way too much to read in addition to all the labs.

The amount of reading was not overwhelming alone, but the fact that it was on top of weekly, open-ended lab assignments and given only a few days before class, if not the night before, was somewhat absurd. I found that I was spending more time per night on this class than I was per week on any other.

I didn't do the readings, and they were not really crucial to the course.

The reading was manageable, but sometimes it was assigned too late in the week for me to have time to take very detailed notes. However, the selections I was able to read in detail were very informative and interesting.

The reading was about right for a week. The only problem was that they were assigned each time about 2-3 days before class, which left little time to completely digest them.

Very good readings, manageable.

Reading is very long but necessary

The amount of reading assigned each week was very manageable; however, it was assigned quite late at times (sometimes even as late as two days before a class). It would be helpful to have it assigned at the end of class the week before. I like to get ahead on material and read ahead, but this is not possible when readings are posted rather late. Regardless, the readings were really neat and helped me learn a lot (I have them all saved on my computer so I can read them all again in the future).

The readings were good however they were often assigned very last minute which made it hard to plan to read them carefully before the start of class.

Yes, all of the readings were very interesting and relevant. It would have been nice if they were posted earlier in the week sometimes so that we had more time to read them.

4. Comment on the amount of writing and the pacing of the assignments. Did you receive helpful criticism? Do you believe that the seminar improved your writing skills?

Yes, this course did as much for improving my writing as the writing seminar. I always received very helpful criticism.

The criticism was extremely harsh. It required students to have very tough skin to handle it well. The issue is that there was so much criticism and they judged us on standards that were incredibly high. I don't think it improved my writing skills at all. The amount of writing required in our writing assignments were so heavy.

This seminar immensely improved my scientific writing skills, but one of the major problems in the method that it was taught was that we often handed in assignments before we were taught how to execute them, often ending in grades that did not reflect what we were to eventually learn from the class. If the expectations for the assignments had been made clearer before hand, the entire class would have been less frustrating and more rewarding.

The amount of writing is huge, and the course moves very fast, with huge assignments every week, but I wouldn't want it any other way though, as I learned a lot during these assignments. We received helpful criticism from our peers and from Amanda and the professors too.

This seminar had a lot of assignments that were very difficult. There was definitely a learning curve coming into the course. However, by the end of the seminar, I was able to turn in a paper that I was proud of. I learned so much about scientific writing. Further, the professors criticism, though sometimes harsh, definitely made my assignments better.

The assignments were difficult to complete and required a lot of work. I was kept very busy. However, helpful criticism was given and I believe the seminar has improved my writing skills.

A lot of criticism was given on the assignments, so I really improved my science writing skills. Extensions were given so I was never panicking to complete an assignment.

Definitely improved my writing skills, both scientific and general!!!

I learned so much from the writing assignments this semester. Looking back, I realize how much I have grown as a scientific thinker and student. Some of the criticism was harsh, and I found grading to be a bit arbitrary at times. Some criticism, however, proved to be very helpful and allowed me to grow as a writer.

We had two main writing assignments but everything we did had some element of writing to it. The comments were very helpful but maybe could have been more interspersed with positive feedback especially before the trip. After the trip I realized that you didn't hate us all but having ruthless comments at the beginning of the semester was rather stressful. I know that my writing skills were improved throughout this class.

Working on the writing assignments and getting feedback on them has greatly improved my scientific writing. Although the pacing of assignments was a little overwhelming, I learned a lot. I know how to write a scientific paper now! My only feedback would be to not give extensions on deadlines at the last minute; it was more frustrating than helpful sometimes.

5. Please comment on in-class and out-of-class assignments, hands-on activities, trips, and other kinds of special opportunities, and describe how important they were to the Freshman Seminar.

The assignments and trip made up the heart and soul of this class.

The field trip was somewhat enjoyable but it was so much of a time commitment, and even on the field trip, I rarely got enough time to sleep and rest. We were working the entire time on the trip. If students think the trip makes the class worth it, it's definitely not worth the trip.

The best part of this class was hands down the trip. It was wonderful not only because we were able to visit two different countries, but also because it gave us all hands on experience with field work, and was an opportunity to grapple with projects and ideas around the clock with no distractions. I learned the most about any given topic during this trip than I did during the actual class.

The fall break trip and short outdoor excursions were a pivotal part of the course, as this is an STL course and fieldwork is one of its main objectives. The fall break trip was exhausting, but very important. It was the best experience of my life yet, to be honest.

During the seminar we took a one day trip to the Catskills and a week long trip to France and Spain. These trips were very rewarding. I learned a lot about geosciences, how science is conducted, and was shown a lot of new perspectives on life in general. I definitely learned the value of hard work and dedication to one's passion.

Very wonderful fall trip! Learned a lot about gathering data in the field, and got to know my professors and fellow students very well. The trip was extremely important to the seminar, and was the most enjoyable part.

Very very important: trip to France/Spain and Catskills were integral to making the class a meaningful experience where one got to do hands on work.

Field trip research projects really tie together everything you learn in the lectures and labs

The France/Spain trip was quite intense. Waking up early and working into the late night was difficult both physically and mentally; however, I learned so much from the trip and from all the hands-on activities we did. It was an amazing opportunity to have had only a few weeks into our freshman year. There were also several activities around campus that taught us a bit about the geological history of the area.

The trip made this seminar GREAT! Being able to spend time in the field and then apply the skills using matlab and latex in the evenings and after coming home from the trip made this course wonderful. The class would not have been my favorite class if there was not a trip. The trip allowed us to form relationships with the professors and other students and created a community of learning that fostered curiosity and hard work.

The trip to France and Spain was amazing in itself, and important to the freshman seminar as well. I learned a lot about the sites we visited and how to conduct field research. It was also really fun to get to know the class, and Frederik and Adam as well.

6. Please use this space to tell us anything you want to about the seminar.

It was very challenging, my toughest class of the semester, but also rewarding.

This class is highly not suggested unless students have a strong background in programming or science.

This seminar was, unfortunately, exceedingly frustrating for me. While I know that I learned a lot by taking it over a wide array of different subjects, and sharpened my writing, coding, and numerical analysis skills, I don't know that the sheer amount of work that was given or the incredibly high expectations of the students were reasonable. It was hard to motivate myself to learn in the class, just because the material felt (and still feels) out of reach.

The duo of Adam and Frederik for this course is just perfect! I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for an adventure, and doesn't mind being pushed to the limit sometimes.

Great, great experience. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take this class.

Awesome class - extremely intense, truly a "Princeton" course

This seminar changed my outlook on science, the world, and geology. I am extremely grateful that I got to opportunity to take it.

Adam and Frederik are AMAZING professors!!! In addition to geo content, they teach incredibly useful scientific thinking/writing skills. They go above and beyond their teaching duties to form great relationships with their students.

7. In thinking about the overall quality of the course, please comment on what you got out of the course. What did the instructor do particularly well, and in what ways might the course be improved?

This is a top notch course that really made me feel like I was at Princeton (in a stereotypical way). I think it might be a good idea to have some kind of programming or statistics prerequisite to the course, otherwise it can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning.

I learned how to use Matlab and Latex, but it won't be helpful for me as I won't be an engineering or STEM major. The instructors do have a lot of time they can give you to work outside of class, but it just requires us to spend a lot of outside time on this. This course should be more of a general introduction to geology. The way it is now is way too rigorous.

Both instructors are incredibly interesting people that can provide an amazing experience just by having a conversation with them. However, they both work at such a high level that it is very difficult for someone just learning the material to interact with them. While I would love working with the two on a research project in a field I already had to tools to explore, I found that they were not very well equipped to teach new concepts to new students.

I did actual research, learnt how to write papers the way scientists write them - things that freshman don't usually do on this level in a freshman course.<br/>It seems though that the students are often stressed out, and I think the instructors ought to go easier on them, in terms of how much they expect the students to do. Then again, I liked it the way it was - I think the fair amount of admonishing I got was deserved. All in all, this was a very constructive

When I decided to take this class, I had never written a detailed scientific paper before. I knew very little about geosciences. I had never flown on a plane or left my country. I had especially never dreamed of doing any sort of computer programming with a graphic interface. But now, at the end of the seminar, I am writing a paper about climate change, full of figures that span a century of data. I flew to France and Spain and learned to appreciate the detail and care that scientists put into their work. But most of all, I put myself through what was the most difficult academic class I've ever taken, and come out of it knowing that with enough perseverance, I truly can do whatever I set my mind to.

The instructors did very well in getting to know the students and in supporting us when we needed it. They were always reachable by email and tried to make time to meet if it was necessary. The only way in which the course could be improved is if more Matlab was taught and if the readings were given out sooner before class each week.

I learned a lot: became a pro at matlab and latex, sharpened my scientific thinking and writing skills, and learned about a topic I had never considered before.

Course does extremely well in instilling necessary scientific research skills and methods of thought - Matlab, LaTeX, how to read and write research papers, field work, and of course a broad coverage of basic geoscience topics. I would recommend giving students in the first week more warning of how much time and work the course takes!

I learned so much from this course. The main thing was that I learned how to become a scientific thinker and how to ask new and innovative questions. I believe grading could be a little less intense and maybe a bit more encouraging. After all, it is the first time for all of us learning in a college environment and learning how to write scientific papers.

This course taught me more relevant skills and knowledge than all of my other classes combined this semester. More mandatory one-on-one meetings and teaching of the most simple matlab techniques at the beginning of the semester would have made the rest of the course even more beneficial to my learning.

During the course, I learned incredibly useful skills, like how to use Matlab and how to do real research and fieldwork. The instructors were what made this course amazing; they were funny, inspiring, and thoughtful. To improve the course, it would be good if Frederik and Adam communicated with each other a little more about our assignments to clarify that they were expecting the same things, especially when we were preparing for the presentations under the guidance of only one professor. ...My only other comment is that I wish I would have taken an intro to stats course and an intro to geo course as pre-reqs for this class; I think my bad foundation in these areas made the class more challenging.

Excellent lecturing, and mentoring. The only way this course could be improved would be with more class days a week. Two or three would be far better than just one and would allow for more fascinating material