Course Syllabus

Geography 4: Physical Geography

Lightening strikes

Watch: Instructor Video

Important Message
Important note: Whenever you see a video highlighted in orange, you are required to watch the Video or read the internet content provided. This is the heart of the class and is NOT optional.

This class will introduce you to the processes that create and shape the earth’s surface. You will study the earth’s dimensions and motions. Weather, pollution, global climate change and the distribution of climate, plants and water resources around the world will be discussed. You will learn about tornados and hurricanes; floods and volcanos; landslides and blizzards.

Student Learning Outcomes 

By the completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • Describe the geographic patterns of the earth’s physical environment, including global patterns of climate, soils and landforms
  • Explain and diagram Earth-sun relationships and their effects on climate
  • Understand and determine latitude and longitude
  • Understand and be able to read and interpret maps, remote sensing imagery, appropriate graphs and charts
  • Understand the causes and mechanisms of climate and weather
  • Be familiar with the earth’s interior structure, explain the theory of plate tectonics and relate tectonic theory to landform development, diastrophism, volcanoes and earthquakes
  • Understand external land forming processes such as running water and ice

Class Meetings: Oh ya, there aren't any

This class will be taught asynchronously. That means there aren't any required class meetings. I will be  providing written materials, video lectures, video  tutorials, tests, and assignments that can be accessed online through Canvas and turned in or completed  by the deadlines specified. I may have some optional live, Zoom study sessions for exams . I will have live, Zoom office hours available. Office hours are optional though you are strongly advised to attend and to get help as soon as you need it. Also, attending at least one office hour this semester will count toward extra credit.

Office Hours: Office Hours will be by Zoom on Wednesdays 4pm. If you are unavailable Wednesdays at 4 pm, please don't hesitate to contact me and we can arrange a time that works for both of us!! Office hours will begin on Wednesday 2/7. 

Here is the Link to Office Hours:    

Catherine Braschi is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Office Hours S 2024
Time: Feb 7, 2024 04:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
        Every week on Wed, until Mar 20, 2024, 7 occurrence(s)
        Feb 7, 2024 04:00 PM
        Feb 14, 2024 04:00 PM
        Feb 21, 2024 04:00 PM
        Feb 28, 2024 04:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting

A Special Note About Tutorials..........

We will be learning about some topics in this class which are somewhat complex and require some basic math. When these topics come up, I will include a Video Tutorial about these topics. These are mandatory viewing. Often you will be doing activities on assignments and on exams that require you to understand these topics.  Please make sure to view these Tutorials and if you have questions, please participate in the weekly office hours. 

Taking an online class is different! It takes more discipline and self-motivation than a face to face class.  Here are some tips for success:

  • Treat an online course like a “real” course.
  • Hold yourself accountable
  • Practice good time management.
  • Create a regular study space and stay organized
  • Eliminate distractions.
  • Actively participate.
  • Build relationships with other students 

Instructor Contact 

I prefer to use the message function in Canvas (Links to an external site.)  to communicate. I will, however, check my email regularly. Alternative ways to contact me are:


Phone: (707) 799-5172 (please call only between 9 am and 8 pm)

Office Hours: Wednesdays 4 pm and by arrangement with instructor (don't hesitate to contact me! We can make office hours work for you!!)

You will also see announcements from me in Canvas. Look for them and definitely read them! Announcements are mandatory reading.

In Canvas, you can control how often you receive notifications from your online classes. I encourage you to take a look at the notification preferences (Links to an external site.) so that you can set Canvas up to work best for you.

I am working to improve my  online teaching. I will make mistakes. Please be patient with me. If you see what is an obvious (or even not so obvious) error, please let me know. You will be helping me and your classmates and I will be very appreciative!


No textbooks are required for this course. I provide extensive online material for you to read in Canvas sometimes with links to outside videos, plus my recorded lectures.  This material is REQUIRED. You will not do well in this class if you do not read the Canvas material, watch the outside videos, watch tutorials and watch my lectures. That's the trade off - no textbook but what I provide is absolutely mandatory reading and viewing.

If you would like extra help with the science concepts in the course or you would like to broaden your resources beyond what I will provide, I strongly recommend the following textbook (any edition will do):

Physical Geography: A Landscape Appreciation by Daniel Hess

ISBN-13: 978-0134195421
ISBN-10: 0134195426
I am not requiring an Atlas this semester. You may find an Atlas to be useful. You can buy this inexpensive Atlas at Amazon.

Essential World Atlas

Edition: 9th; ISBN: 9781465450692; Dk Publishing
You may also find this free, online Physical Geography textbook to be helpful:

Required Software

You will need the following software for this course. There will be assignments that you simply can not complete using a phone. Be prepared to work at a computer. The JC has loaner computers available. 


There will be some math in this class. Math phobes don't panic. The math required is reasonably basic. You will, however, need a basic calculator for this class.

Important Dates 

Day Class Begins:  January 29th (please remember this is a compressed, "Transfer Track" course and these dates are different from the regular JC Schedule)

Day Class Ends:   May 17th (We will not have an exam or class meeting finals week - so 5/17 is it)

Last Day to Drop without a 'W' symbol: February 4th

Last Day to Drop with a 'W' symbol:   April 21st

If you decide to discontinue this course, it is your responsibility to officially drop the class to avoid getting no refund , a W symbol , or a grade.

JC Holidays: 2/15, 2/16, 2/19,  Spring Break (3/18-3/24), 4/1

Pass‐NoPass (P/NP)

You may take this class P/NP. You must decide before the deadline, and add the option online with TLC or file the P/NP form with Admissions and Records. With a grade of C or better, you will earn a P.

Once you decide to go for P/NP, you cannot change back to a letter grade. If you are taking this course as part of a certificate program, you can probably still take the class P/NP, however, you should check with a counselor to be sure.

Instructor Announcements and Q&A Forum

I will post announcements on the “Instructor Announcements” page in Canvas throughout the semester. These are usually important: extensions on due dates, hints on homework, dates and times of test reviews, my availability for office hours etc. Please read them.! I only announce what I think is important. Canvas will notify you according to your preferred Notification Preferences as soon as I create an Announcement. A “Q&A Forum” is also available on Canvas so that you can ask for assistance of your classmates or me. Please check it out frequently. Maybe you can help someone in the class.


It isn't a party without you!! Your attendance will be taken in the form of your participation in Quizzes, Assignments and Discussions. You will be considered to have attended class for the week if you participate in the online activities that week. Your participation and attendance is not only important to your success in this class, but also to the success of the entire class. This course is designed to be inter-active and student-centered. If you fail to participate in the manner described above, and miss five or more activities (quizzes, assignments and discussions) you will be dropped from the class for failing to attend the class.  If you need help and something is going on that is preventing you from participating, please contact me! We can figure out something together and keep you in the class!

Extra Credit!! As an extra incentive to help keep you moving along, I will give you 10 extra credit points if you:

  • miss no more than one quiz,
  • participate in all discussions,
  • and turn in all assignments.
  • Bonus points 10 :  attend one office hour!!!

Late Policy

Assignments will be due by 11:59 pm  on the due date. Let's face it stuff happens and sometimes we just can't nail a deadline. TALK TO ME! Message me! Let me know something is up. Generally,  submissions more than one week late won't be accepted without my approval and late work will not be graded unless you send me an email with URL for late work. But if you communicate with me PROMPTLY, we may be able to work something out. Only homework assignments and Exams can be made up. Quizzes and Discussions must be completed on time. 

Grades:  Quizzes, Exams, Assignments and Discussions

There will be five (5) Unit Exams - one for each Unit we cover in class. They will be based on my lectures, Canvas written materials, tutorials and videos, homework assignments and discussions. There will also be quizzes most weeks. These will be very short (between 5 and 10 questions)  and you will be able to attempt the quizzes three (3) times. If you miss a quiz, it can not be made up.  It is your responsibility to take the online exams and quizzes on the due date. If you are unable to take an exam because of an emergency or a technical issue, contact me ASAP and I will consider makeups on a case-by case basis. Under no circumstance will you be allowed to take more than one makeup exam per semester.

There will also be homework assignments and possibly a discussion assignment for each Unit. All assignments and discussions are due at 11:59 p.m. on the due date. See the "Late Policy" above regarding assignments. Unfortunately, due to the nature of discussions no late submissions to discussions will be accepted.

Grading Policy

I try to grade discussions, assignments and exams as quickly as possible. Check the Canvas Grade book to see how you're doing.. Where it will benefit the class, I may grade using a simple curve. Otherwise grades will be assigned as follows:

                                    "A"       90% and above

                                    "B"       80 - 89%

                                    "C"       70 - 79%

                                    "D"       58 - 69%

                                    "F"        under 58%

If taking Pass/No Pass you need at least 70% of the total class points to pass the class.

Extra Credit

There will be a number of opportunities to earn extra credit in this class. As already mentioned, the easiest way is to simply do the work (see Attendance above). There may also be extra credit questions on assignments, discussions or exams. Attending office hours at least once during the semester, will earn you 10 points of extra credit.

Another way to earn Extra Credit is to participate in the Current Events Discussion Activity. Find an article relevant to any topic we have studied or will study in Physical Geography (eg. maps, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes etc). Post a brief summary of the article and provide a link to that article in your post. This will be worth 10 Extra Credit Points. You may also earn extra credit for responding to a Current Event Discussion post (5 points). You may repeat this once during the semester for a total of up to 30 possible extra credit points. I will occasionally include a post on the Current Events Discussion.  If you comment on those posts, you will earn five extra credit points just as you would if you responded to a fellow classmates post. Sometimes I slide in an extra credit opportunity in the announcements. Read what I send never know!

Standards of Conduct

Students who register in SRJC classes are required to abide by the SRJC Student Conduct Standards. Violation of the Standards is basis for referral to the Vice President of Student Services or dismissal from class or from the College. See the Student Code of Conduct page.Links to an external site.

Collaborating on or copying of tests or homework in whole or in part will be considered an act of academic dishonesty and result in a grade of 0 for that test or assignment. Last semester I had a number of students who googled answers and cut and pasted them into exams and assignments. This will not be tolerated and you will fail any assignment, exam etc. where I catch you doing this. DO NOT USE THE INTERNET ON EXAMS! 

Avoid Plagiarism Like the, er, Plague

Although you no doubt know all about plagiarism its worth a reminder that it is a fast track to a failing grade. Bottom line, do your own work! Don't be so sure that anyone knows more than you do. 

I encourage students to share information and ideas, but not their work. See these links on Plagiarism:
SRJC Writing Center Lessons on avoiding plagiarismLinks to an external site.
SRJC's policy on Academic Integrity (Links to an external site.)

I had an unpleasant experience last semester where several students copied and pasted material that I had posted on Canvas as answers to an Exam questions. Copying my material is still plagiarism and will earn you an "F". Please put things into your own words.

The video below reviews what plagiarism is and how not to do it.

Plagiarism: How to avoid it (Links to an external site.)

Netiquette, or Why Is It Harder to Be Polite Online?

Netiquette refers to using common courtesy in online communication. All members of the class are expected to follow netiquette in all course communications. Use these guidelines:

  • Use capital letters sparingly. THEY LOOK LIKE SHOUTING.
  • Forward emails only with a writer's permission.
  • Be considerate of others' feelings and use language carefully.
  • Cite all quotations, references, and sources (otherwise, it is plagiarism).
  • Use humor carefully. It is hard to "read" tone; sometimes humor can be misread as criticism or personal attack. Feel free to use emoticons like :) for a smiley face to let others know you are being humorous. Sarcasm is particularly difficult to read online so don't use it.
  • Use complete sentences and standard English grammar to compose posts. Write in proper paragraphs. Review work before submitting it.
  • Text speak, such as "ur" for "your" or "ru" for "are you" etc., is only acceptable when texting.
  • If you would not say it in person, don't say it online!


If you are a student  with a disability who believes that you need accommodations in this class please contact Disability ResourcesLinks to an external site. (527-4278), as soon as possible so that we can make sure accommodations are provided to you as quickly as possible.

If you need help with Canvas, the JC has lots of resources to help you.  You can also ask questions in the Class Q & A Discussion. 


Once you have read the Syllabus, you are ready to get started. Begin the Modules (or Units).