GEO/CEE/ENV 370 SEDIMENTOLOGY (previously GEO 450)

Professor: Adam C. Maloof

This course presents a treatment of the physical processes that shape Earth's surface, such as solar radiation, deformation of the solid Earth, and the flow of water (vapor, liquid, and solid) under the influence of gravity. In particular, the generation, transport, and preservation of sediment are studied as diagnostic tools to link processes with the geologic records of Earth history and modern environmental change [T Th 1:30-2:50 pm, Guyot Hall]

This course will be taught again in SPRING 2018.  The location of the spring break field trip has not been decided.  Please see the student course evaluations from 2016, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2009, and 2007 below.

Spring 2018 Student Evaluations
Quality of lecture (n=6) 4.83 / 5.0
Quality of written assignments (n=6) 4.00 / 5.0
Quality of readings (n=6) 3.67 / 5.0
Overall quality of the course (n=6) 4.17 / 5.0

1. Overall Quality of the Course

The lectures were awesome. I think the field trip was fascinating but ultimately fell short of its purpose/goal due to group dynamics, length and distance of the traveling, and the way that Adam responded to groups that were struggling. Pushing groups to do top notch work is important and why I took this class. However, realizing that undergrads who are not professional researchers or hired as graduate students may fall short of the expectations (and maybe that is ok) is important. I felt that when folks fell short the reaction from Adam was less than supportive. I am confident that Adam will achieve results closer to what he hopes for in his classes if he changes the way he reacts to students being less prepared than he expected, or not completing as much work as he expected. You don't have to give them better grades, or say "that's ok" but moving forward everyone will be more excited and engaged if the professor is supportive of them rather than dismissive. "i don't want to see this ever again" is not supportive or helpful, even if it is true. Going over the problem set and exam solutions in class and encouraging folks to continue being interested in the material regardless of what they turned in was very supportive.

Awesome course. The problem sets are time–consuming but super fun and the field trip is amazing. Summary of suggestions: 1) Make Leeder "optional" 2) Scrap the dunes pset...or revamp the pset and scrap the gummyworm problem (just go over it in lecture) 3) Shorten tides part I––problem 4 isn't motivated very well yet and feels cumbersome. Integrate the modern tide records in part II by telling people to create their own synthetic tidalites. 4) Fix the bugs in your synthetic tidalites. 5) In the tides pset (part II), start by telling people to read a few of Kvale's papers. (i.e. have that in the intro part of the pset). 6) Make more room in the schedule for glaciers pset. Part II of that pset is awesome. 7) Rely on your notes less during blackboard derivation lectures. Try to add more useful commentary explaining what the steps are and why you're doing them. 8) don't give up on seds.

Great course, high expectations that are hard to reach. Adam can change things to help students meet his high expectations which will improve everyone's experience. Make the psets shorter and make the expectations for answers clearer. Don't give a pset the week of the presentations. Prepare the studnets a little more before the trip so everyone is one the same page and ready to jump in.

This class taught me more than any other class at Princeton. It's clear that Adam puts a ton of effort into making this course as good as possible. The class is interesting, organized, and challenging. Overall a very good class, but could be improved if the emphasis were shifted from quantity to quality of knowledge.

An incredibly hard course that was presented well and with good motivation. The class was engaged and worked well together. Adam's lectures were good, and his feedback on assignments was great.

2. Why did you take this course? How would you describe your level of engagement in the course?

I took this course because I wanted to have a general knowledge of how the planet works. I was confident that Adam would provide a comprehensive view of the processes which shape the surface of Earth. I was very engaged with most of the course and invested a lot of effort in work for the class.

I took this course for general interest and was strongly engaged.

This course originally caught my attention because it's listed as an elective for the archaeology certificate; thus, I thought I would learn how to merge my interests in geo and archaeology. I'm now convinced that the archaeology program actually has no idea what this class is all about. Nonetheless, I'm so glad I put myself through this course this semester. Sure, it fulfills a GEO requirement. More importantly, though, it taught me skills that I'll need to succeed in my future endeavors.

I took this course because I wanted to challenge myself and benefit from the helpful (if somewhat soul–crushing) advice from Adam on written work. I was engaged and put a lot of work into this class. It definitely was my hardest effort this semester, sometimes at the expense of other classes.

3. How would you describe the overall quality of the lectures?

High quality lectures. Incorporated the textbook information with examples from classic and recent research in the field. Clearly a lot of effort went into putting the lectures together and they were engaging and packed full to the gills with information. The amount of information was sometimes too much to incorporate all at once, but through the psets, tests, and especially review of the psets and midterm I feel like the information became better synthesized in my head. Many derivations were presented that were interesting and useful, but occasionally it was as if Adam was just reading off of his notes and that it would have been easier to follow if we had been reading over the derivation notes rather than watching him read over the derivation notes.

Lectures are awesome. Exciting and engaging, and it's clear that a lot of work goes into making them. 2 comments: 1) The lectures that are all keynote slides are super engaging, but they go too fast to properly take notes––it feels like if you need to take notes, you will miss the next thing. For the slides that are mainly just pictures, this is okay since the point is to look at stuff. But for lectures where you need to take more notes, you should try to change the pacing so make the slide flipping a little slower. The lecture that stands out to me as being too fast was the energy balance one. Most of us have probably seen Earth's energy balance in every geo class, so maybe it's okay to go fast, but I would re–structure the lecture to make the computation part all blackboard––like Nadir's––and not have those cartoon slides with incident rays on Earth and water molecules transporting energy to the high atmosphere, etc. Just draw that stuff. 2) The blackboard lectures are much slower––and easier to follow along with in terms of notes––but I think you are too stuck to reading your notes. It feels like you read your notes directly, with no useful commentary about why you're doing something, etc. The lack of commentary makes it hard to follow the derivation. I also think that reading directly from your notes leads to more mistakes. Anyway, for reference, most of my other professors who work on the blackboard don't carry notes in their hands during lecture. So maybe try to do the derivations more or less from memory. I think it will make those lectures much more exciting. You certainly shouldn't scrap the derivations, but you should work on making them better. Also, it would be useful if you post your notes for those lectures––regardless of whether they are handwritten or in LaTeX–– on blackboard so people can go back to them in case they missed a step in their notes, etc.

Lectures were awesome. The material was wide ranging and often very mathematical, but adam presented it in a cohesive and well motivated narrative. Very engaging and super interesting.

Each of the lectures were amazing! I liked how the professor walked the class through each topic from a convincing motive to the nitty gritty details of mathematical equations that describe natural processes. I definitely learned a lot, and asking questions helped to understand their content.

Lectures are fantastic. Of course, they're fast–paced, but this feature serves to keep students on their toes. One drawback to this approach, though, is that it often seemed that we sacrificed a deep understanding of the material for the sheer quantity of topics covered. I like it when lecturers ask questions (even if they're rhetorical), and Adam did occasionally. The lecture slides were particularly awesome.

Adam is a very intelligent person, and the lectures generally follow a very logical structure in sedimentology. Sometimes, however, his attempts to teach topics that are outside the realm of geology can be a bit confusing. The class had a hard time following his structural geology and hydrology 'chalk talks', for example. However, he did a great job of motivating his lectures every time, and they conveyed just enough information to keep us interested, and encouraged us to explore other sources of information.

4. Papers, Problem Sets and Examinations

In general we were well prepared for the material on the problem sets, however the amount of work required for each problem set was more than can be reasonably expected from students. I know that Adam put a lot of time into making them, and they were creative and engaging, which I appreciated a lot. However, regardless of what you hope a student ought to be able to do upon completion of the course, psets should not take over ten (sometimes double that) hours for students to do. Adam frequently referenced his desire to "convince" us to hand in complete and on time psets, but the reality is that almost no other class asks for that type of time commitment because it is not reasonable. If the goal of the problem sets is to have us work out the problems themselves, AND learn how to present it as a cohesive story then perhaps it would be better to have mini–assignments –– a couple simple problems which are due at the beginning of each class –– and then a write up which is due every two weeks, on the problems that were already completed and quickly reviewed. Perhaps less material would fit in the psets, but i think that could be a better format. Also, changing the format in any way (i.e. having two tide psets as opposed to one) is not super helpful if the amount of work is not decreased. i think the goal of the psets moving forward is to come up with a format that teaches the quantitative problems and the presentation aspects in a more efficient way so that students are able to meet the expectations of the course. Exams were honestly pretty fun and interesting. That said, some aspects (being given hand samples and lenses with no context) we were not real prepared for that well. It was interesting and fun, but I am not sure what the expectations were for that. Also, the tendency of most students to want to say "tidalite" at every layering sequence was probably bc tides were on multiple psets and the midterm. i think that weighted peoples focus perhaps erroneously to tidal forcing whenever seeing sediment. Obviously the crossword is a wildcard, and some answers (names of scientists etc) may only have been said once during the entire semester. That said, it was fun and interesting. The field trip report was difficult. A 10 day trip is not feasible, even though Australia was awesome. The amount of work I had to crunch immediately before and after (plus the jet lag) made it hard to properly prepare in our mini teams and to properly work out the data we had collected. I don't mean that as a complaint. I mean that as a sincere recommendation: do not do another trip that long and far away, is not feasible as a student with other classes and independent work. I had a rough time in my group from start to finish, and sometimes felt that our group's unpreparedness or the fact that some students in the group struggled to grasp the goals of the field work was met with frustration and dismissal from the professor. It was also rough having one of the members leave IMMEDIATELY before work was due.

The problem sets are definitely the best part of the class besides the fieldtrip. They are unlike problem sets in any other class. The focus on presentation sometimes feels a little annoying, but I think it is probably good overall. The best problem sets are: tides part II, box model, glaciers, and basins. The box model pset is perfect for the first week––definitely one of the easiest ones, but it is really cool and a good way to start out. You should just give people the differential equation that defines that box model, though, since it was confusing how you worded it in the current version of the pset (specifically, it's weird how you want us to express the box model as a linear function of pCO2, instead of just making it a function of total CO2, even though that makes the form of the differential equation a little more complicated). Anyway, most of the difficult part of that pset was just figuring out how you wanted us to formulate the equation, and that's silly since there are several reasonable ways to do it. Tides part I felt a little cumbersome because it seemed like you tried to add bulk to make it stand alone as its own pset. You could get away with having tides part I be WAY shorter, and still lay all the groundwork for part II. In part 1, I would get rid of problem 4. Then, in part II, you should add a problem in which you ask students to make their own synthetic tidalite––basically, take modern tide gauge data, assume sedimentation is proportional to current velocity, and build up layer thickness patterns they can analyze to try to back out whether the tide is semidiurnal, diurnal, tropical, sidereal, etc. You still have bugs in your synthetic tidalites. The minimal thing to make that part work is to explicitly tell people not to use a FT and instead just to count, then modulate the amplitudes in the harmonic components so that visually you can pick out the important periods. But you can also get the record prepped for a proper FT...if you go down that route, you should add a note of caution that the noise from missing layers, etc., which throws off the FT, make FT highly unlikely to work on tidalites in real rocks. For tides part II, scrap either 1.3 or 1.4. It is a lot of time to count them both, and the core is so much cleaner and more fun to work on. Dunes is the one that is most in need of revamping. You might even want to scrap it, to make room for glaciers in the schedule (see below). The gummy worm exercise was useful, but easy and you explained it well in lecture. So no need to do it again in the pset. The lidar dataset is incredible, but you should motivate that part better by setting up some interesting question that people have to use the dataset to answer. You could add an optional extension in which people can explore whatever they want in the dataset, but as it is right now, the dataset just seems thrown in there. And because that pset falls on midterms week, which is the hardest week of the semester, an unmotivated open–ended question feels a little frustrating. I also think you should find a satisfactory way to align the DEMs of the 3 images. I think there is an offset of a few tens of centimeters. The basins pset is awesome, and perfectly–timed for the fieldtrip. I think I got way more out of Kentucky than I would have if I hadn't done the basins pset immediately beforehand. The glaciers pset is also awesome. Especially the lake temperature part. The tricky thing is that it didn't really feel like there was time in the schedule for glaciers. You'll need to move everything up a week earlier. If it were me, I would scrap the dunes pset to make more space for glaciers. Especially if the field trip is not focused on sand dunes.

Problem sets form the backbone of the course. The psets are clearly thoughtfully designed and well organized asking students to build a cohesive narrative that explains sedimentary phenomena. The psets are too long and adam frequently expressed that people missex the point of some questions. This leads me to believe that a shorter less open ended pset would allow students to master the material and appropriately answer the questions asked. Each pset is like a mini paper. The group projects were not well enough constrained I think every group underperformed because they didn't have a clear direction before the field trip. Preparing more for the field trip before hand might have helped everyone succeed on the projects. Exams were very difficult for me and too long. I felt like I had learned a lot but wasn't able to show it on my exams which was frustrating. Exams were basically like a compilation of problem sets with added multiple choice and word puzzles. It took me forever to do psets and the exam was no different.

I am split on the quality of feedback for problem sets. On one hand, I received good feedback about how to improve the writing, presentation, and general communication. On the other hand, I didn't think that the feedback on how to analyze the problem was very useful. The professor said at the beginning of the course that he looked forward to seeing the students solve p–sets using a variety of methods. But, when we received feedback, he expected us to follow his way of thinking to get the correct answer.

Problem sets are hard. They can take over your life if you want them to. Prior to taking this course, I didn't believe that problem sets could be this difficult, time–intensive, and open–ended. Their difficulty notwithstanding, problem sets form the core of this class; each assignment serves to solidify students' understanding of the material. I could actually feel myself getting better at science as I completed each problem set. It's amazing that we get to work with real (or real–ish) data! Adam's feedback was very helpful in improving my performance in the class. I liked that we got grades for both content and presentation, as this distinction forced me to pay attention to how I communicate my ideas (an aspect that I hadn't thought about much in previous courses, despite its importance). My main annoyance with assignments was the fact that Adam would frequently send out corrections to the problem sets shortly before they were due. I guess these corrections were sometimes necessary but always annoying. Exams were similarly difficult and tested our observational and applicational abilities rather than pure recall. Word puzzles are a surprisingly effective way of testing comprehension. Group presentations were a good experience––I learned a lot about how geo research is done.

A double–edged sword. Adam is uniquely invested in his student's written work, offering incredibly detailed and helpful comments on every piece of written work. In addition, those students who went to office hours and listened carefully in lecture found that the problem sets were more accessible than first thought. However, the problem sets were a massive time drain. I am aware that Princeton is meant to push you mentally, but sometimes Adam thinks that 370 is the only class that you're taking. Putting this much effort into one class is a great ordeal, and it is almost selfish to assume that we can put this much effort into all our classes. However, it is perhaps the most rewarding to put effort into this class.

5. Readings

Visual slides were awesome, and a great resource for review. Readings that i did were helpful and relevant. I especially appreciated the "fun" supplementary readings and videos which brought the material to life in a more engaging way.

The slides are awesome. You should upload your derivation lecture notes to blackboard. And you should scrap Leeder. You could keep it on as an "optional" resource. But Leeder takes 40 pages to explain something that needs 4. Gets cumbersome, and I stopped reading after week 3. We don't really need it, especially if you upload your derivation notes. Also, in your derivations, don't feel wedded to Leeder's notation––because I think his notation is weird and confusing! Just use what makes sense to you, and don't be worried about continuity with Leeder since no one reads Leeder anyway!

The supplementary reading and visuals were great! Loved the illustrative videos. Leeder wasn't so helpful and not interesting.

More pictures of examples from the field would be useful. Perhaps bring in actual rocks to show examples of turbidites, cross–beds, ooids, etc. What readings?

I tried to get into Leeder, but it was the most ineffective use of my time imaginable. Sorry, Adam, maybe one day I'll have a level of geo knowledge that will allow me to comprehend Leeder at a deep level and I'll get something out of it. Since I wasn't yet at that point, I stuck to the fantastic lecture slides for my reading (although I did reference Leeder one time when I had a question I couldn't answer using just the lecture slides). The optional "readings" that Adam sent out for a few weeks in the middle of the course were super cool. It would have been nice if he'd kept sending them out.

The lecture slides are satisfactory. The Leeder offers a good extra insight, but it is just one more thing that we don't have time to do. Therefore I think it's good that the syllabus includes relevant chapters in Leeder, but that we aren't expected to read them. Furthermore, the short–lived 'fun' readings were very useful for global motivation.

Spring 2016 Student Evaluations

Quality of lecture (n=6)

4.80 / 5.0

Quality of written assignments (n=6)

4.00 / 5.0

Quality of readings (n=6)

4.30/ 5.0

Overall quality of the course (n=6)

4.50/ 5.0

Hours of work outside of class

5-10 (15%), 10-15 (45%), >15 (40%)

1. Overall Quality of the Course

Great course. Maybe split the Tides pset into two parts to ensure that people get started early enough.

The course is great overall, although its open-ended, qualitative nature can be frustrating. The field trip is an amazing experience that would be valuable to anybody interested in research, science, and engineering, or even someone who just loves nature. It covers an insane amount of material, and most of what I felt I understood best was material that I had already covered, even if briefly, in other classes.

I was very happy with this course. I can confidently say that I have gained valuable knowledge about basic sedimentary processes, but I think most importantly, I've learned how to better approach problems, consider big picture questions, and present my work in a coherent manner.

I liked the variety of topics we covered. The tides problem set could be split into two. The project was
intellectually stimulating. I actually would have liked a final problem set about glaciers and ice sheets. A lot of the derivations in lecture seemed unnecessary.

Serious talk, regardless of the grade I get in this class, I've learned so much, had a great time, and feel I understand the material thoroughly. Mostly due to Adam Maloof who puts in more effort than any professor I've ever been taught by (also expects more).

I think this is a phenomenal course because it is challenging and interesting. I think the course could be a little less intense and still accomplish the same goals and leave a little bit more time/energy for the independent project. I also wished that we had had more time to put together our project - perhaps next time presentations could be during reading period.

2. Why did you take this course? How would you describe your level of engagement in the course?

The course seemed like it would help me develop important skills (Latex, MatLab, GIS) and also covered many topics that interested me.

I took this course because it is a departmental and for the field trip. This course teaches how to draw insights about Earth's processes from observations, a skill that can't be learned from reading a book.

I've taken a variety of geoscience courses and this covered material I had not yet been exposed to. I wanted to take this to broaden my general geo knowledge. I also had heard that it was a good course to learn not only the material but also essential skills for problem sets and presentations in any subject.

Adam taught my freshman seminar, which is the best course I have taken at Princeton. Plus, I used it to fulfill a departmental requirement.

I was told by my peers that I couldn't graduate without taking this course. It's not a requirement but it's a class too informative to pass up.

I wanted to get the material certificated. I was also interested in learning about geology and trying something new.

3. How would you describe the overall quality of the lectures?

Occasionally thought too many steps ahead of himself and got muddled up... Sometimes seemed to make comments on subjects he had a base knowledge of and perhaps got away with some bold claims. However his knowledge on the actual subject is unquestionable. Lectures got through an insane amount of material and rarely finished late. The slides are always informative when you look back over them

Adam is a great lecturer. One drawback is that he talks so quickly that it is sometimes hard to keep up.

Adam is an excellent lecturer with an unbelievably deep knowledge of the material. Sometimes, though, I feel he jams too much into the lectures when it would be better to give students a deeper understanding of fewer concepts.

Lectures were fast-paced, but things were always explained clearly and followed a clear train of thought.

I really liked Adam's lectures. The material was interesting and the slides were well put together. I think the fluid dynamics section was the weakest part of the course, and the glaciers section was the most interesting. I would think a little bit more about the order of the lectures. For example, I think it would make more sense to put the rivers section with the deltas and estuaries lectures.

Lectures were generally good, although sometimes Adam confused himself doing derivations. (Sometimes I felt the derivations were unnecessary.) I really like the variety of material that we covered in the course; I was exposed to many more topics than I was expecting.

4. Papers, Problem Sets and Examinations

As hard/time-consuming as these were, there was certainly no busy work. I thought the problem sets were interesting as they allowed us to engage with and interpret real data.

The problem sets do a good job applying the lecture material to real data for the students to analyze. They are ridiculously open-ended, which can be frustrating especially for students used to more numerical or proof-based problem sets. Although they are well-written, it seems that some ambiguities and mistakes reappear every year the course is taught because they never get revised.

The assignments were mostly very good at walking you through the bigger picture problem, which was nice. Sometimes questions seemed a bit vague, or it wasn't clear what the expected answer should be. Feedback was always excellent on problem sets. Having the checklist of things to complete for the project proposal was really nice.

The problem sets were definitely challenging, and really pushed us to think carefully and thoroughly about the material.

Problem sets are rough... They will push you out of your comfort zone, into the cold, and leave you there for 8 weeks. But when you finish you've learned how to LaTeX, to MatLab, and to Illustrator. If I had one suggestion it would be the following: ps02 covers tides and is a two week problem set. For people like me who think two week problem set means 1 week of rest followed by a one week problem set it might be best to split the problem set into two: make Q1 of the problem set ps02 and make the other questions ps03. This would not increase the total amount of work but the quality submitted would be higher.

I really enjoyed working on the problem sets because they always challenged me and taught me something new. I had never used matlab or illustrator before, and learning these skills was very useful for my thesis. I think that some of the expectations could have been clearer. For example, I would have liked to see the guidelines for how to write a field notebook before we went to the Bahamas. I would have taken different notes if I had understood the assignment better.

5. Readings

The textbook wasn't great but Adam sent us alternate weekly readings/ youtube videos which were pretty interesting.

Readings were devastating.

Didn't read Leeder, but the readings you sent out each week were great, especially when it was one sentence and then a video. But actually, I thought they were useful because they often added more relevance to what we were studying.

EXCELLENT READINGS, ADAM!!!!!! (I only read Leeder [the textbook] once -- on the very first day -- but the short readings assigned before every lecture were fun and informative)

Leeder's sedimentology book is the greatest textbook you will ever read. There is never a dull moment. First he's talking about sand, then he's talking about ice, it's fantastic. The supplementary readings were much more dull. Topics included dropping balls from dams, CO2 in a lake killing hundreds of cows, and transatlantic telegraph wires breaking: who wants to read about that? Leeder, 5/5. Supplements 2/5.

I liked the short readings. The slides were always visually interesting, and I especially liked the photographs from previous field seasons. Sometime more text/background notes could have been helpful, especially since there is not a basic textbook.

Spring 2014 Student Evaluations
Quality of lecture (n=9) 4.44 / 5.0
Quality of written assignments (n=9) 4.56 / 5.0
Quality of readings (n=9) 2.00/ 5.0
Overall quality of the course (n=9) 4.56/ 5.0
Hours of work outside of class 5-10 (15%), 10-15 (45%), >15 (40%)

1. Overall Quality of the Course

The course is very well organized and extremely interesting. Its tremendously difficult, but thats part of the point.

The class is well organized and provides a wealth of material to engage with. Professor Maloof is very accessible and quite obviously puts a lot of energy into the course. If you prepare yourself, you can get a lot out of this class.

I think the problem sets and field trips are awesome, I guess my only critique is that I felt that more emphasis could have been placed on interpreting examples of things we discussed in class; ie talking about actual pictures or interpreting strat columns, etc.

Please make the exams line up with what we learned in class. We got very little practice looking at stratigraphy and knowing exactly what occured.... on the other hand the way Bernoulli effect controls regelation is something we all know, because we covered it tirelessly in lecture

The course is challenging, fast-paced, and extremely well-taught. A lot of material is covered very efficiently. I would say the only thing to change is to be careful to only test concepts really gone over in class as opposed to general geologic knowledge and intuition on the exams.

Great course. The only thing I would improve would be to tighten up the lectures. there were a lot of times that we spent too much time on examples.

One of the best classes I have ever taken.

Not really much to say here - great course, and the trip to the Bahamas was amazing. Especially Small Hope Bay Resort. I liked that. See above.

Course is well executed, delivers fascinating and important material, and dramatically improves the quality of students' work.

2. Why did you take this course? How would you describe your level of engagement in the course?

I took this course because Adam was teaching it and I knew it was difficult.

I took this course to challenge myself and learn more about a subject that interests me.

I wanted to explore the Department of Geosciences. I was highly engaged in the course.

Because I wanted to be challenged

I am a geoscience major and am extremely interested in the subject material. I was very engaged in the course and put a lot of time into this class.

I took this course out of interest in the subject matter and interest in taking a course taught by Prof. Maloof

Sedimentology is considered one of the capstone classes of my department and I am likewise interested in the subject matter.

departmental, knew the professor would be good, and very interested to learn properly about sedimentology. highly engaged

Unique opportunity for undergraduate rigor in study and research

3. How would you describe the overall quality of the lectures?

Adam is arguably the best lecturer in GEO because he puts tremendous effort into making excellent lectures and legitimately cares if we understand the material. He presents massive quantities of information, which is great because we learn a lot, but is also somewhat misdirected because a lot of it goes straight over student's heads. It would be better (and I know this hurts Adam) to have slightly less material explained in greater depth.

For example, the slide about six different end-member weathering scenarios seems unnecessary.

Lectures are overall engaging but rushed (especially towards the end). I think math should never be presented through powerpoint. I like when we are asked to think through a problem/ answer a question to keep us on track.

Overall the scope is perhaps too broad, and makes the class too shallow.

Lectures were extraordinarily dense, and I found it challenging and stimulating to keep up with the pace of instruction. At time I felt like I was losing sight of the bigger picture, but studying outside of class put all of the content from lectures into perspective.

Adam is a fantastic lecturer, and he really wants you to understand everything as expertly as he does

Each lecture covered a lot of material and was extremely interesting. Adam is a clear and charismatic lecturer that managed to get captivate my attention for each lecture. He encourages questions and patiently answers

Overall the lectures were good. It was obvious Prof. Maloof spent a lot of time on them. One thing was they often went 10min over the allotted time.

Great lectures. Prof. Maloof is the most engaging physical science lecturer I have ever had. One thing that would be helpful to students, however, may be some slightly more orienting information on what the main takeaways are. Each lecturer has an opening content slide, but there are no closing summary slides.

The lectures were exceptional. Adam had clearly spent alot of time making the lecture slides and organizing the course, and this was reflected in the lectures. They were engaging, interesting and well structured. The lecture slides also proved to be extremely useful when revising for exams.

Lectures always prepared and delivered well.

4. Papers, Problem Sets and Examinations

The problem sets of this course are extremely well made. Adam makes himself available for questions. The problem sets require a massive commitment by the student, but I think generally students know this going into the course.

Problem sets are well-designed, effective, and engaging.

Feedback was awesome, and the problem sets and presentation based on field work were also great assignments.

I mean, all of it was very difficult, but very carefully thought through.... except for the consideration that students might do things with their lives other than sedimentology

The problem sets are hard and take a long time. If you want to have a chance of finishing them you have to start them early, work in groups, and ask a lot of questions. They do a great job of forcing you to grapple with the fundamental concepts and really further your understanding of the material. There always seems to be more you can do and more you can learn.

Problem sets were great and very useful in learning the material. I thought we were given enough guidance on them.

Amazing guidance. Not only does Prof. Maloof schedule significant time to help, he is also willing to do personal meetings/answer emails. Assignemnts were very, very hard, but much easier if help was sought. Regarding the exam…no word searches! cross-words are better.

As always, I enjoyed doing the problem sets. Of course they were lengthy, but I learnt a huge amount from each one. I particularly enjoyed how they used real data sets, and were directly applicable to real world problems. Further, I think that learning Latex and especially Matlab are critical for any scientist.

Problem sets long and tedious, but engaging and key to learning material.

5. Readings

Leeder is horrific. I legitimately tried to read the text and repeatedly failed. We recognize that Leeder is one of the only texts to quantify the material, but it is so bad that no one reads it, and not for lack of trying. It is actually incomprehensible to undergraduates. Students would be served far better with a qualitative book, especially given the intensely quantitative nature of the problem sets.

Leeder is dry, but can be a good resource. Kump is more engaging but was only a secondary text for this class.

I struggled to keep up with the readings; most of the readings from the textbook were not worth the time taken to read them, but some of the reserves were informative and interesting.

All content came from lectures/ proble sets

I didn't end up doing most of the readings as most of the material is covered in lecture. I'm sure I would have benefitted from doing more of the readings though.

Didn't do them

Ah we never do the readings. Not sure how much this hurts us. I think the only way to encourage reading would be to build it into the pset-- like ask questions about it or what-not. Reading was probably good but i doubt any student knows.

The lectures were thorough enough such that I did not feel that the readings were necessary.

Spring 2012 Student Evaluations
Quality of lecture (n=6) 4.67 / 5.0
Quality of written assignments (n=7) 3.57 / 5.0
Quality of reading (n=5) 3.20/ 5.0
Overall quality of the course (n=7) 4.14 / 5.0
Hours of work outside of class 5-10 (15%), 10-15 (45%), >15 (40%)

1. Overall Quality of the course

A very general, yet not superficial, overview of a huge amount of interesting material. Unlike many in other science courses, the professor strives hard to make everything relevant to intuitions and observations all the students have had. One place for possible improvement would be to spread out the work load into smaller, but more frequent problem sets, which would allow far more material to be covered in the assignments.

For small classes, I believe that no matter how much the professor pours himself into doing a great job teaching, the quality of the class will depend on the students and the amount they participate and are engaged. Class won't be fun if you're the only one that's genuinely interested and everyone else could care less (not that this was the case, just an example). The atmosphere has to be right. Unfortunately, given the demographics of the class, a lot of people had generals exams, undergraduate independent work, and athletic commitments, and there were some people in the class that didn't seem very interested in learning the material at all, which prevented such a collective feeling of learning for this class. All in all though, the field trips were the gems of this course. Adam does a fantastic job preparing these field trips and has a built-in encyclopedia in his brain that is able to address any question a student poses with such depth and clarity that it is mindblowing. The problems sets and lectures were also fantastic, though if the demographic of the class leans more heavily towards graduate students, they ought to be toned down a bit. Emphasis on presentation was distracting, but again is probably one of the most important lessons to take away, if anything. Overall, the class was very good and I wish I had taken it earlier!

Challenging, but taught me important skills in geoscience and scientific practice in general. Field trips were the most educational, practical, and enjoyable parts of the class.

It is an interesting course for both lectures and field trips. I recommend to reduce the content of the course so that the lectures can be more focused on the key topics and reduce the course burden by giving less homework.

Very good quality but very demanding.

The overall quality of the class was very good to excellent. However, I would also comment that students taking this course should be prepared to spend a much greater amount of time on this course than others. If they do, they will learn about a wide range of topics that are broadly applicable to the geosciences. One of the main reasons why I enjoyed the class so much was because there is something for everyone to learn.

This is a good course, although I didn't do well. I am glad I have picked up latex and matlab, and have a understanding of geology. Lectures need to be improved.

2. Why did you take this course? How would you describe your level of engagement in the course?

Since I am considering graduate study in planetary sciences, I saw this course as an excellent opportunity to expose myself to the field and also apply some of my theoretical physics knowledge to better understand processes that I can observe or intuit.

Sedimentology is applicable to just about any field within geosciences. I had good experiences in previous courses that were taught by Adam, which encouraged me to take another. My level of engagement was high, though kind of thwarted by independent work and extracurriculars.

This course is relevant to my research and is taken as one of my major courses in my general exam. I attended all the classes and a 9-day field trip. On average, I spent three days every week on this course.

I took this class to review some sedimentology concepts that might be useful for my research. I was highly engaged with the class trying to do my best on the assignments.

I took this class because it was suggested to me by a few professors, and because I thought it would be useful for my research. I was very engaged throughout the entire course, although there were some topics that weren't as relevant for my work.

3. How would you describe the overall quality of the lectures?

While at times a little too fast-paced for comfortable note-taking, the lectures generally succeeded in presenting the material in a coherent manner, with good graphics, sufficient mathematical rigor, and references to recent research in the field. They also blended in well with the homework assignments.

Adam does a fantastic job explaining and organizing complex concepts in layman's terms. Lectures were organized in a very logical manner and aesthetically pleasing, filled with photographs of amazing glaciers, lakes, and sedimentary structures and appropriate diagrams illustrating concepts in a very intuitive sense. Oftentimes, Adam would connect concepts with recently published research to show their relevance, which was nice. However, slides were often inundated with text that muddled Adam's ability to convey key points and ideas. Tons and tons of information was conveyed in one lecture that it was often difficult to catch everything, and difficult to catch which ideas/concepts were the most important. Adam almost presented each idea with equal importance, which made it difficult to internalize. Overall, a lot of information was crammed into the course and sometimes it felt like too much to cover in 12 weeks. Although this course had large breadth, the choice of places in which we pursued concepts in depth was confusing and often times felt subsidiary. Too much information was at covered at too much of a fast pace. Maybe it would have been nice to hold review sessions every 2 weeks or so to reteach the material if cutting the material down is not possible. However, the quality of the information presented was fantastic and extremely useful, and if on a good day, you managed to catch everything, things made a lot of sense. However, things that are important need to be emphasized more, because it's not always clear.

Lectures are clear and presented in a straightforward manner. Professor Maloof makes even the most complex ideas easier to grasp.

The lectures are of good quality. I think they covered too much fields and knowledge, so it's really hard to go through everything. Adam did a good job on selecting the major topics and illustrating the important mechanisms. He's also good at invoking our interest and showing fancy graphs. I have two suggestions: first, it's better to learn new knowledge systematically, so I hope we have a conclusive lecture at the end to fit pieces in the big frame and make comparisons to distinguish different phenomena; second, it's better to make the math part correct and consistent.

Very clear and organize. In the case of using equations, I really appreciated that he took the time to go through them step by step. It was very interesting because of the quantitative approach that was kind of new for me. I know that the semester is quite short but I felt like the class was more like an introduction to sedimentology with some emphasis in very specific topics.

I thought the quality of the lectures were very good. The motivation for studying each topic was well presented and well organized. I learned a lot from the lectures, and the lecture slides and my notes will be very helpful for when I want to review the material in the future.

Positive: The lectures cover a lot of information and topics. Negative: a little unsystematic; slides would be better if there was some more information together with beautiful pictures.

4. Papers, Problem Sets and Examinations

The problem sets, in particular, the one in tides, became the reason behind many painful all nighters. Nevertheless, I feel that my proficiency in MATLAB, LaTeX, PowerPoint, Excel, and image processing software greatly improved in the process. In addition, the material in the problem sets connected well with discussion in class, with very little need for consulting the textbook. One word on exams --- crosswords!

Problem sets were incredibly well-designed and crafted such that you could tell a story about some geologic formation or structure after each one. However, they were also extremely time-consuming, which was, for the most part, unnecessary. Questions could have been more streamlined and those that required tedious (i.e. parts in which the time invested-to-knowledge gained ratio was extremely low) tasks could have been cut. The best problem set was tides because of the way it tied everything together, but it could have been less time consuming. Also, the emphasis on presentation--though probably one of the most important lessons to take away from this class--was largely unnecessary. This class is meant to instruct students on topics related to sedimentology, not how to produce an aesthetically pleasing research paper ready for peer-review. Although these auxiliary tools are extremely useful, especially for underclassmen who have not been exposed to useful tools like Photoshop and Latex, they inhibit students' ability to learn the actual subject material. When I could have been reviewing concepts from lecture and reading the textbook, I was instead making figures look pretty and worrying about the presentation of each problem set. This in itself took just as much time as figuring out the answers to the problem set questions themselves. What should be emphasized most in this course is learning the actual material, not worrying about its presentation. Bad science, even if it looks nice, is still bad science. The purpose of this class should be to teach people how to do good science by emphasizing learning of the subject material rather than presentation. On the class projects, to an upperclassmen and/or graduate student who is conducting their own research, it is hard to get engaged with these research projects, which require quite a bit of investment in time. As an underclassman, I could imagine that taking charge of a research project would be immensely helpful, but seeing as this year's class consisted of grad students and upperclassmen, save for one sophomore, the overall feeling was that these projects were less useful. Time invested-to-knowledge gained ratio was very low for those "seasoned" in research. Additionally, there were huge disparities in the contributions of different group members, which was frustrating.

Can be hard for people with little background in MatLab, LaTeX, etc. They do push you to better understand the subject, however. And the use of real data makes the challenge of the problem sets more exciting.

Overall, the written work is relevant to the lectures and we are provided with a good source of reference papers.

The exams are also well designed. For the problem sets, I think the content is good, but they are too much. It takes about 3 days to finish and it's too time-consuming. I think the problem sets can be shorter and more efficient.

The assignments were very interesting but too long. The class was very demanding because of that. The time spent was not worth considering that I was taking other classes and trying to advance my research. The field trips were very nice and very useful to apply the concepts learned in class and to perform a different types of analyses and approaches to solve the problems.

I thought that the problem sets were extremely useful, but also extremely time consuming. I enjoyed learning to use latex and becoming more familiar with Matlab and illustrator, but felt that up to 70% of my time working on a problem set was spent on presentation, rather than material. I think the problem sets could have been just as rewarding if I had spent 25% less time on presentation.

Problem sets are so difficult for me. Even if I spent a lot of time, I could not get a good grade. So, I personally think it would be better if we can get some more instructions or help on problem sets.

5. Readings

I rarely found it necessary to consult the textbook, though when I did, I found the presentation of the material quite good, though sometimes difficult to translate to the topics discussed in lecture.

Never touched the textbook. Not enough time to learn all that was presented in the lecture AND all that was included in the book.

The textbook is not so good and relevant to the course- it seems to contain too much knowledge and lacks a good system management. I like the textbooks that show a good systematic frame and be clear and precise about the knowledge. The recommended reading materials for the field trip are good.

Generally helpful, but learned more from classroom lectures and problem sets.

Spring 2010 Student Evaluations
Quality of lecture (n=10) 4.4 / 5.0
Quality of written assignments (n=10) 4.1 / 5.0
Quality of reading (n=9) 3.0 / 5.0
Overall quality of the course (n=9) 4.7 / 5.0
Hours of work outside of class 5-10 (15%), 10-15 (45%), >15 (40%)

1. Overall Quality of the course

This course is quite simply the best course I've taken at Princeton. It bridges what is sometimes a gap between the natural sciences and rigorous quantitative analysis flawlessly. Besides the way in which equations were derived in class, I wouldn't change a thing about this course, other than possibly adding that last problem set if you can make it work Adam. Especially don't get rid of the field trips, they were invaluable.

I'm really glad I decided to take this course! Like the other gems in the GEO department I only discovered this year, 370 has been a grand adventure. What worked well: small class size, engaging lectures, interesting problem sets, great field trips, umm... everything else? What could be improved: ... keep numbering those slides? Also, some extra guidance on the field notebooks prior to going to the Bahamas would have been nice, although I might have gotten a little stressed out pre-Bahamas if I were given Christene's excellent book as a standard. Maybe space out the Kentucky trip and the Bahamas trip a little bit more.

GEO 370 is hard, and you get as much out of it as you put into it. I might have benefited from waiting a year, because some of my skills (particularly my physics knowledge) were lacking. But by the time the class was over, I think I ended up understanding "sedimentology" overall as well as anyone would have. There are obviously still gaps in my geologic knowledge, but this class has taught me a lot of specific things about interesting phenomena around the world. I guess the best judge of its quality is this: I'd be able to tell my family about the story told in the rocks if we go anywhere with sediments. That interpretive skill is valuable.

Hands down the best GEO course I've taken. Learned more in 370 than in any of my other courses and will retain a great deal of knowledge from the course. Not only that, but it's one of the courses in the department with a very clear focus and application. I know what I learned and where I can apply it and in any discussion of sedimentology I will be able to contribute based on my knowledge from this course.

Overall the course was very good, very hard, and almost exactly as I expected it to be. In my ideal version of this class, it would be almost exactly the same, except with much much much less math. (Adam, I can practically see you shaking your head in disapproving disbelief as you read this). Either way, I took this class to learn all about sedimentology, and that is what I did. My objective has been met, so I really can't complain. I know that I put a lot into this class (heck - I just spent an hour filling out a COURSE REVIEW!!) and I'm happy with what I got out of it, as it is. I just know I would have gotten more out of it if i were smarter :(

2. Why did you take this course? How would you describe your level of engagement in the course?

I took this course because I heard good things about the Professor Adam Maloof, and wanted to get another GEO departmental under my belt. I found the material extremely engaging; it truly changed how I see the world.

It's rather hard to not be thoroughly engaged in this class. Not only is it very interesting, but I've a feeling someone *cough* Adam *cough* would thwack any sleepy-eyed student who wasn't trying hard. In all seriousness, I'd say I spend just as much time on this class as I do my core lab.

I wanted to take this somewhat higher level class because Adam was also my professor for my freshman seminar. I was willing to (and ended up) putting a lot into this class, because it demands it. This class was far and away my hardest course, if only because it took up so much time. It was always "do the rest of my homework so that I can keep working on geo work", but I knew that going into it so I was ready.

Very high level of engagement and I took it because of the professor being good, the field trip sounding awesome, and it being a departmental. I took the course out of general interest in the subject matter. In addition i had really enjoyed a previous class with the professor. I was engaged throughout the semester, though on the problem sets i definitely didn't bring my A game, possibly due to their daunting length (but more likely due to general apathy on my part).

I wanted to take the course because I am genuinely interested in the subject matter - and certainly became more so over the course of the semester. But as my interest grew, my emotional investment in the course decreased as I became more and more overwhelmed by the workload until by the end, I realized I was not giving my all just because I couldn't bring myself to invest the time necessary to do well on the problem sets.

I took this course because I knew that it would teach me all sorts of things that will be very helpful in my future as a geologist. I would describe myself as very engaged (by a normal standard, that is - too many people in this class are super-human, making me look like a slacker in comparison).

3. How would you describe the overall quality of the lectures?

Adam is a good lecturer, not the best I've seen at Princeton, but very good. I think his biggest handicap is the amount of material he has to present means lectures have to move at what sometimes seems a breakneck pace. I sometimes found myself swimming in a sea of equations just trying to keep up, and grasping for how they related to reality. That being said, my understanding usually came full circle by the end of lecture. I think one way to improve this might be too include the derivations in the lecture notes. This would allow Adam to spend more time putting the equations in context and explaining their derivation, which is what he's great at, and less time just writing. It would also let students focus on understanding the mathematics of the derivation and how what it means instead of furiously copying derivation, knowing that the derivation was in the available lecture notes for them to get later. Apart from this minor criticism, I loved lecture and was always psyched to show up and learn ten new things every day, and even more psyched to work them through on my problem sets, in the field, and in telling them to my friends.

Fabulous! The subject matter is very different from that of other classes. The processes are also on a much larger scale, both spatially and temporally, than anything I've studied before. Nevertheless, it is has been cool to see the connections between sedimentology and processes I've studied in CHE classes. Even more, as someone with a keen interest in energy and thus tangentially climate change, it has been very eye-opening to think about climate change through a geological lens. PPTs are well-organized and got even better once the slides were numbered! Annotations on some of the photos would be helpful, though (especially when we are trying to see faint stratifications).

Adam is a pretty good lecturer. The best lectures are the interpretation lectures where he shows images of structures and talks about their formations. Sometimes he (and the class) can get bogged down in derivations. Maybe it would be better to put the derivations on a note sheet and give them to us, so that we can study them on our own? They didn't really add to the class, and took up a lot of time. Aside from these, the concepts were well explained.

There were a few lectures that were very derivation heavy and not particularly useful for PSETs or EXAMs. Otherwise the visuals and lecture content were superb and the Professor made the material very accessible even for non-majors.

Professor maloof is a veritable treasure trove of information on all things geoscience. It was clear that he put a good deal of work into his lectures and it definitely paid off in terms of my understanding of the material. I think that some of the more technical lectures (thermal subsidence, flexure) could have done without the rigorous mathematical derivations. For the time commited to them it didn't seem like we were gleaning any intuition into the problem... i think at several points it would have sufficed to set up the problem then wave your hands and present the final formula and explain its significance. There were also several models and formulas presented which were explained once and then essentially abandoned without application to an actual problem. One example is the "brazil nut effect." I have have no understanding of Bagnold dispersive pressure equation.

The lectures did a good job of introducing the core concepts. I definitely felt like I understood the fundamentals by the end of the course. They did not, however, prepare for the problem sets. Because Adam was trying to cram in an enormous amount of information, he never took time during lectures to step back and put concepts into context. I suspect that this was due to a combination of being pressed for time and wanting to make the bigger connections on our own, but I always felt completely lost going into the problem sets because it was never readily apparent how to apply the information I gleaned from lecture. The problem sets were challenging enough, and something like an introduction to stratigraphy would have been immensely helpful. Also, I would have liked more practice identifying bedforms. Something like starting every class with an example of a bedform that applied to the previous day's lecture and giving the class a minute to look at it and another two minutes to discuss would have made a HUGE difference in my comfort and familiarity with extracting environmental history from rocks, which, I believe, is the goal of the course.

FAST!! fast and lots and lots of information. They were generally pretty interesting, though, and the only time when I zoned out was when we were doing endless complicated math. Also (you already know this), it was a lot better for my note-taking when there were page numbers on the slides, so make sure to keep doing that. Overall, I found the material interesting, but found that I didn't get as thorough an understanding on different topics as I would have liked all the time. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how to go about fixing that with the limited time we have. Also, it would probably be better if lecture was a little more interactive. I feel like there's a lot of 'blank stare' time that went on where we didn't have any specific questions, yet were still a little uneasy with the material.

He gives lectures in a way that catches my attention. The only suggestion for him is put more staff on the slides, because personally, I found it difficult to understand the materials while busy copying notes on the blackboard.

The lectures were incredibly well organized and always very interesting. I learned a lot. The mixture of powerpoint and blackboard work was great. It is clear that Prof. Maloof spends ALOT of time on this class, and that is rare.

4. Papers, Problem Sets and Examinations

Adam's problem sets are quite possibly the best teaching instrument I've ever seen (close tie with Bill Bialek's ISC lecture notes/prototextbook). They are masterpieces, walking students from basic concepts to only slightly watered down versions of some of the most amazing conclusions in Earth history. While extremely time- consuming, after the first one I was hooked, and while it was somewhat of a relief, I was also a little bit sad when we didn't have a final problem set. I cannot stress how much I learned in completing these problem sets, they are amazing. Bravo Adam. 7 stars.

Problem sets are fun, though incredibly time-consuming. It's nice to review them in class because there's always some nuance or mini-layer that I didn't discover while doing the pset. Also, LaTeX rocks. The proposal assignment was well-specified. It was just a little difficult to handle because the scope of a sedimentology question is so much broader than the scope of any CHE question I would try to answer in a lab report. Workshopping problem sets and feedback on problem sets are definitely incredibly helpful! It would be great if all my classes gave such detailed feedback.

I'm ambivalent about the problem sets, because on one hand, they take a huge amount of time. The tide problem set in particular was legendary. I'd usually spend my entire weekend working on them, and then finish them up over the course of the week. I got them done, but my weekends were kind of dull (and predictable). On the other hand, after finishing them I always had an intimate understanding of their principles, so they did their job well. No doubt the difficulty is deliberate and self-selecting: several people dropped out after the first problem set, and probably (for them) for the better. The exams are also difficult, but fair. You're expected to know everything that he ever said or included in lectures, as well as recognizing every piece of math that ever appeared on the board or in problem sets. This practice is fair, I guess, but somewhat polarizing: either you know that salt water causes flocculation, or you don't. On the interpretation questions there's more middle ground, but you still have to be right (as far as I can tell). The project was probably the high point of the class (aside from the field trip) but, again, it will take a lot of time. Still, it's a nice culmination of work.

The PSETs were very instructional and clarified a lot of material. I think that the structure of a one box model could have been made more clear before the first PSET and also that the PSETs could be shortened. Given the high level of complexity and expectations for presentations and the fact that most students need to learn latex for the class, the PSETs, particularly the second, were excessively long. Course loads at Princeton for science students (the type of students that will take this class) are not light and the extreme amount of work involved in most of the problem sets for this class required losing sleep even with an early start and decent time management. That being said, I learned a lot of useful knowledge and skills from the PSETs. The proposal for group work was great exposure to science writing for prospective science grad students. The exams were difficult. The mid-term was more manageable than the final.

The problem sets were in general well constructed to guide the student towards an understanding of the topic. I approached most of them with a vague understanding and after having completed them things would be much clearer. It's nice to "get one's hands dirty" in a problem set. I especially appreciated the data culling and modeling aspects of the problem sets. They helped me become more acquainted with matlab, which i think will be an invaluable skill for me moving forward. The exams were for the most part fair and relevant. The final was definitely not meant to be done in 2 hours, however i was able to finish it to my satisfaction in 3. One complaint i have is that there were several questions on the midterm and final that were sheerly rote memorization, be it of a chemical formula or a word. I don't know if this is a good way to test understanding of the material... i mean, a crossword? Really adam? you're just incentivizing us to memorize words like "yardang" and "jokulhlaup". Well, i guess it worked.

WAAAAAAY too much. Yes, I have already found Latex and Matlab useful. Yes, these are tools that will prove useful to me as a student of science. But the philosophy of the problem sets seemed to be sink or swim, and most of the time I felt like I was drowning. At the beginning of the term, I felt too overwhelmed by the scope of the problem set to take advantage of Adam's offer to give group tutorial on Latex, and after that window of opportunity closed, I never found a free moment when I could make the time investment of learning how to typeset and code Matlab properly. This just made the problem sets take even longer, which made me even less willing to invest time in learning Matlab. I ended up being so overwhelmed by the quantity of output that was expected that I was able to do justice neither to the science nor to the presentation. I got much more proficient in Matlab and Latex while working on the presentation, but I don't feel entirely confident in a lot of the material covered in the problem sets just because I was so worried about being able to do everything in time. Even if I understood what the problem was asking, I rarely knew what was expected by was of an answer. For much of the class, I felt like we were given an assignment and only told what we were actually supposed to do once we had submitted out work. Telling us, for example, what we should annotate in a graph would have made everyone happier. This was particularly a problem with the project proposal. I was under the impression going in that the proposal was mostly a check-up to make sure we were doing work, so I went for quantity rather than quality. It was only when Adam went over the flaws of the proposals in class that I realized that this was intended to be more like a grant proposal.

Comments are awesome, and Adam is very helpful when you have questions to be answered. I struggled A LOT with the problem sets - mostly I think I just didn't have enough understanding of the topics to apply them effectively on my own so fast. They're great in that you learn a lot, but it's a painful process that involved a lot of me feeling lost. I LOVED the final project though (or mine, at least). We had enough guidance to start of and keep on track, but we were still able to draw our own conclusions and choose the direction we wanted to go with the topic. Now that you know what I loved, I HATED the exams. hatedhatedhated. Mostly because I find it very frustrating to study for so long and feel like I've learned so much, yet still get totally owned once I see the exam questions. I know they're designed to be hard, so that's not really a helpful criticism. sorry. If I could change one thing, I would say make the equation sheet a little more organized and straight-forward.

The problem sets helped a lot to understand the materials. And the professor graded them carefully, gave detailed feedback, correct my grammar - I am actually very grateful for that since it helps me to improve my English. And I learned new software - such as LaTex, which I am sure that will be useful in my academic study.

I had heard horror stories about the assignments for this class, and they were honestly not bad. The tides problem set was brutal, but that was the only one. Like the lectures, the problem sets were well organized and interesting . I learned a ton by doing them. My major complaint is that Prof. Maloof, I think, puts an excessive emphasis on the appearance of things. He expects his problem sets to be really, really polished - far and away more so than any other professor I have ever encountered. I understand that handing in unreadable assignments is unacceptable, but I think Prof. Maloof goes too far in his expectations. 

5. Readings

To be honest I barely read the assigned readings, usually relying on Adam's lecture notes and the notes I took in class. However, the textbook was useful come exam time as a study tool for any areas where I felt my knowledge had any holes. The prepared materials for field trips were excellent, and had obviously taken a lot of time to prepare. However, I usually found my eagerness to read them fading as the trip progressed, because Adam was such a terrific interpreter of what we saw around us. My lack of use doesn't reflect any lack of quality or utility.

The book... is very dense. I did buy it. I've read some of it. Most likely will read the rest before the final. But, honestly, the lecture notes are more helpful. The Bahamas binder was epic. Definitely helpful as a starting point, though.

I found the main course readings really dry, and ended up not doing many of them (sorry!). I suppose we'll see if that reflects in my grade, but I was able to understand the concepts when Adam explained them but not when Leeder did. I'd do a reading even after the lecture and not get anything out of it.

No complaints.

I didn't crack leeder once. maybe that's testament to the efficacy of the lectures and problem sets. or possibly it's symptomatic of my laziness.

I found Leeder good supplementary material, and great as a go-to when I needed to brush up on a derivation or for background regarding a given process, even with the supplemental readings, I felt we
didn't have readings for everything we went over in class. Particularly when studying for exams, I felt this absence pretty strongly. Either having more consistent readings or having more annotations (ahem) on lecture slides would have greatly aided me in studying.

Leeder can be way boring sometimes, and very interesting at others. I found it varied widely on the topic. A lot of the time I felt like the math we did in class was more complicated than what was explained in the text.

Spring 2009 Student Evaluations
Quality of lecture (n=10) 4.4 / 5.0
Quality of written assignments (n=10) 3.5 / 5.0
Quality of reading (n=9) 3.3 / 5.0
Overall quality of the course (n=9) 4.3 / 5.0
Hours of work outside of class 5-10 (0%) 10-15 (70%), >15 (30%)

1. Overall Quality of the course

Excellent course. I probably got more out of this course than my other three courses combined.

Great course, a lot of work. Overall very fulfilling.

Overall, this was a good course. I liked the fact that you not just gained an understanding of processes but also developed your skill/tool box. I learnt to appreciate Matlab!

Outstanding course. I'd recommend that Adam insert at least three weeks of downtime into course. There was I think one week that we did not have a pressing assignment due or an exam to study for. A little bit of freedom would allow everyone to catch up in their other classes, as well as let the material to synthesize.

2. How would you describe the overall quality of the lectures?

Adam is an amazing instructor, incredibly committed to providing a broad, yet deep understanding of earth surface processes. My lecture notebook is a testament to this. My copious notes, diagrams, and formulas form a robust line of inquiry on very complex and diverse course materials. Wish I could have taken Adam's class as a freshman/sophomore undergrad would have perhaps changed my academic path.

Lectures were great and the material was presented well. Prof. Maloof did an awesome job of not only presenting his lectures in an exciting and clear way, but was able to cover a wide range of topics in a short time and for the most part still have his students retain most of that knowledge.

Lectures were fascinating. Sometimes there was such an overload of information that it was hard to impossible to take notes on everything. 

The lectures were well organized and structured. Adam often presented the information using more than one approach and gave several examples which was very helpful. I really benefitted from the figures that were drawn on the board. However, sometimes there was a bit too much information for a single lecture which caused Adam to rush.

Lectures were always well prepared and coherent. The way people were asking questions shows you were not too intimidating! Good timing between the lectures, problem sets, and field trips = well organized for sure.

Intensity of Adam is both inspiring and slightly intimidating at times. Incredibly organized and not a minute wasted. Really liked the variety of teaching techniques: Photographs, diagrams, equations, lecture. Hands on materials in the classroom would improved the already successful lectures.

3. Papers, problem sets and examinations

Problem sets were well thought out and very informative. It was nice how they gradually developed larger concepts. The length of the problem sets was sometimes out of sync with concept development, e.g. questions would build to a culminating concept but questions following this point were just pedantic.

Problem sets were long!!!!! I recorded the number of hours I spent on the second problem set (about tides): 25 hours! Although I did not always do very well on them, I learned a lot from the problem sets.

The problem sets were interesting and worthwhile, but very long and work intensive. I always despised them while working on them. Then, upon completion, I would step back and realize they were actually pretty neat. The professor was great about written comments, etc.

Adam gave clear instructions for all the written work. However, little/no help was provided for the problem sets. This caused people to meet and work together on difficult questions - often a good thing. The problem sets were well constructed. However, some were ridiculously long. Many were handed in incomplete. This is a shame because often the final questions were the most interesting but could not be completed without finishing the previous questions first.

Adam was brutally honest at times, holding us to the same expectations he applies to himself and left us feeling like no matter what we tried to improve it never worked. Maybe wording is key. But in general he was very attentive to detail, which is good.

The problem sets, exams and projects were very challenging and required deep interaction with the course material. That being said Adam has a tendency towards excess, problem sets often consumed too much time for me to consider them in full and the five assignments (paper, presentation, poster, exam, and field notebook) due during finals/papers week was certainly too much for any class, undergraduate graduate or otherwise. Despite the excessive nature of the assignments, I rate the work very highly because of the carefully crafted nature of each assignment, and the assignment's ability to enhance understanding of the course materials.

4. Readings

The textbook is more than decent. A useful thing to help students work on it would be to add the numbers of Leeder pages that relate to some of your lecture slides. Question : how many students really read the suggested readings ? Personally, although highly motivated, I got so absorbed by the problem sets that the readings often were reported to later, later being the WEE just before the exam.

The book was appropriate.

Readings from Leeder were interesting but sometimes dense, bordering on incomprehensible at times.

Good complements for class topics and great reference.

Great readings: in text, supplemental field trip packets, and outside papers were helpful in providing understanding a context for Adam's lectures. Will keep all readings for reference in the future.

Spring 2007 Student Evaluations
Quality of lecture (n=7) 4.9 / 5.0
Quality of written assignments (n=7) 4.3 / 5.0
Quality of reading (n=7) 3.4 / 5.0
Overall quality of the course (n=7) 4.7 / 5.0
Hours of work outside of class 5-10 (14%), 10-15 (57%), >15 (29%)

1. Overall Quality of the course

It's hard to assign GEO 450 a grade. On one hand, it's a comprehensive survey of sedimentation, glaciation, stratigraphy, hydrology, erosion, tides and miscellaneous rapid-fire planetary knowledge from the turbocharged brain Prof. Adam Maloof that never bores and is often "fascinating" (one of Maloof's choice epithets). On the other hand, this course ate a three month period of my life like a total eclipse at sygyzy. Caveat emptor. The most obvious hook of GEO 450 is the 10-day Bahamas expedition, the crown jewel in an ambitious fieldwork schedule. Prospective students must understand this is not Saved by the Bell: Andros Vacation, but a working research trip on an open question in sedimentology that involves 12-hour workdays and wilderness camping. If (and only if) you love the outdoors, this week will be one of the highlights of your time at Princeton. The fieldwork component is tightly integrated into the curriculum, so be prepared to take notes and ask questions. If it happened on Earth within the past 4 billion years, chances are excellent Maloof has encyclopedic knowledge of the dynamical processes involved, not to mention a strong and/or contrarian opinion on the issue. This overwhelming enthusiasm for the subject material extends to lectures, which are generally well-organized, fast-paced and supplemented by numerous visuals. While a background in differential calculus (or MATLAB) is helpful, it is not necessary as Maloof thankfully takes care to simplify the occasional derivation.

The weaknesses of the class are a question of scope, not content. I would classify the workload of the course as excessive: both mid-term and final exams, four monster problem sets, a "publication-quality" group term paper stemming from fieldwork, a 30-minute presentation of this research, all on top of 19 days on the road. It would have been exhausting even if 450 was the only class I was taking. Problem sets took 15-20 hours to complete and could be frustratingly open-ended, though on the plus side this will result in your classmates becoming your second family sometime around 4 AM. Maloof has little sympathy for outside commitments, and even a group plea for extra time on one particularly nettlesome deadline was denied.

Still, GEO 450 is an adventure in the classical sense: a true voyage of discovery, packed with heartbreak and triumph. It's easily the most epic class at Princeton, which makes up for a lot. I would enthusiastically recommend it for any experienced student of the physical sciences, so long as you understand the blood, sweat, tears and time involved. Only schedule this class if you are willing to make it a priority.

My favourite course at Princeton so far. Otherwise known as "Maloof's course" as it was impossible for us to separate the course from the professor.

The course is very (read: Very) comprehensive, covers a lot of ground and does not focus too much on any single subject. It does a good job presenting all the issues from a fundamental level upwards, and you can come into this course having no previous experience in geology whatsoever. At the end of the course you will have a broad image of topics such as surface processes, geology, earth's geological history, the drug history of the Bahamas, to name just a few.

A big part of the course is centered around the week-long field trip to the Bahamas. Warning: It is not a tourist trip, and in fact it goes to probably the one island in the Bahamas that has almost zero tourism and no palm trees. It does however give you a good introduction into authentic/original field work, with everything that implies:
- unlike a regular class field trip, no one can tell you wether your assumptions about a particular geological processes are correct.

- (a.k.a.)you will be doing original research, collecting original data, analyizing and drawing your own conclusions.
- hauling large and expensive equipment that will sometimes break down; wading through kneed deep mud; sleeping in tents (through which it might or might not rain), working sunrise to sunset. -You will either hate or love this trip. Probably love it by the end.

The course load is significant, however bear in mind it is a 400 level course. The workload is comparable to a 300 or 400 level physics course, but not more then that. (I know I've spent many more all-nighters on E&M and the Physics Death-Lab then GEO 450). It is probably more work and at a more physically and mathematical rigurous level then most other courses in the Geo Department.

Word for the wise: The assingments are over periods of two weeks. Treat them as such.

The only place where the course does seem to come tumbling down upon you is at the end of the semester when you have a final exam, a final paper consisting of original research, an oral presentation, and another small paper or two.

Because of its broad scope, more similar to an intro course in geology, and the level at which the material is presented, worthy of a 400 level course, GEO 450 has the feeling of an introductory grad course.

Take it if you are serious about and want a good and scientifically rigurous introduction to Earth processes.

Both Adam and the course material asks for a lot of effort, motivation, and drive for knowledge from the student, so if you lack any of these qualities, think twice about taking the course. If you do not put the effort forward, not only will you fall short in the course expectations, but you and your classmates will be disappointed to miss the opportunity to explore cutting edge research on the geomorphological earth processes. As stated in another review, do not take this course if you are looking for a free trip to the Bahamas - take it because you are excited about the subject matter, the field work, and the opportunity to do research.

This course demanded a lot of the students, but provided them with a unique experience and even bonded them in a way that you rarely see in Princeton courses. If you are looking for a course that can teach you research skills, allows you to work hands on in the field, is scientific and technical, and prepares you for advanced study in the sciences, this course may just be for you. It is one, if not the only course, that I can walk away from knowing that despite receiving some lower grades on problem sets and tests, I worked extremely hard and was challenged, and at the end of the day, am really proud of what the class had accomplished together. If you do decide to take this course, set aside a lengthy amount of time for this course every week. It deserves a large amount of attention, so try not to pack your schedule with other extremely demanding courses as well. Be sure to start problem sets early because even if they look simple, they will take a long time. Use Adam as a resource. He knows a lot about a lot so don't hesitate to use his office hours/meet with him.

Don't take this course just because you want to go to The Bahamas. There are several other courses in the GEO department that will give you the chance to travel without too much academic headache. Take this course because you are interested in the subject matter, which is fascinating. More than any other GEO course, "Earth Surface Processes" provides a comprehensive introduction to the world of geophysical processes and the cutting edge methods being used to research these processes. This course is time-consuming and challenging, though I'm guessing that expectations for workload will probably become a bit more reasonable based on the complaints of students in the inaugural year. The problem sets are very long and often somewhat repetitive. The tests require a lot of preparation but are actually quite fun, requiring quite a bit of critical thinking and application of just about everything you've learned. The central focus of the class is the Bahamas trip, and you will be doing real research, including the mundane aspects of data analysis and the frustrations of learning to use computer software such as GIS. Andros Island in the Bahamas is a wonderful place, and the research site is ideal for studying geomorphological processes. Overall, this course is a great preparation if you are considering graduate study in geology or related fields, as it provides you with great research experience backed by wide-ranging knowledge. If you're serious about geology then you must take this course. Just be prepared to work hard!

This course provided me with a unique and essential perspective on geophysical processes that I had not found in other GEO department courses. The lectures and the reading really got at the fundamental physical, biological, and chemical processes behind geomorphology and the study of earth history. Unlike most professors who specialize in great depth on one subject, Adam Maloof is a generalist who can speak on just about any subject, and he has the rare ability to integrate knowledge from just about any scientific discipline or subdiscipline. This is extremely valuable when studying a subject such as "Earth Surface Processes" which is inherently multidisciplinary.