From Mountains to Marriage

Final Project


Description:  Students will be placed into a random group of three peers.  The group will select a world region of interest to them.  The region which they select should be one identified as an individual chapter in the course textbook.  Students will then read the chapter, taking note of the various sub-regions within their region of choice.  Through discussion, the group will then narrow their focus to a specific sub-region with a consistent set of environmental characteristics.  Once this specific area of focus has been determined, the group will begin intensive research on the physical environment.  At the conclusion of this period of research, students should begin a second phase of intensive research on the social characteristics of the people that live there.  Particular emphasis should be placed on the behaviors and practices of the people that have been developed as a result of the physical environment that surrounds them.  At the conclusion of the research, the group will plan and design a presentation which will be used to educate their peers.  The project should be centered on a tri-fold display board, but may also include handouts, manipulatives, music, food, etc.  The display is due on the assigned day (as indicated on the syllabus), at which time all members will move about the room learning from each other’s work.


Assessment:  Assessment will be multi-faceted.  On the day that all projects are presented, a designated group of peers will use a specific, outcomes based rubric to evaluate each project.  The scores from all peer evaluations will be averaged and factored into the project grade.  In addition, group members will evaluate each other’s performance in the group, also using a specific rubric.  These will also be averaged and factored into the project grade.  The instructor evaluation portion will be a subjective assessment of the functioning of the group, the quality of the research, and the presentation.  Finally, each individual will be required to write specific responses to a limited number of peer projects.  These four measures will all be included in the grade for the project.  Breakdown is as follows:


1.        Average of peer evaluations on your project………………....40%

2.        Average of group member evaluation of your participation….  30%

3.        Instructor assessment………………………………………..10%

4.        Responses to peer projects…………………………………..20%



Go to Peer Evaluation Rubric.

Go to Group Member Evaluation Rubric.

Go to Project Response Worksheet.



Project Guidelines:


The following is a series of suggested steps for completing this project.


  1. Once your group members have been identified, sit together and introduce each other.  Exchange phone numbers and email addresses.  Take a few minutes to share any particular interests or experiences which may be relevant to the project.
  2. Review the textbook table of contents and further identify regions of interest.  You may wish to further examine individual chapters to gain insight.  Once you have narrowed your interests to a few regions, study maps of those regions in your atlas.  Visually identify landforms and water bodies.
  3. Conduct further conversation on your findings.  Narrow your decision to a single region (which should correspond to a chapter in the text.)
  4. Each chapter begins with sections on landforms, climate, and environmental history.  Each member of the group should be assigned one of those sections to read and provide information on to the whole group.
  5. Once the above reading is complete, share aspects of each section with the whole group.  The group should then identify sub-regions which have relatively uniform physical aspects.  Remembering that the focus of the project is to establish links between the natural environment and the way people live, choose three possible sub-regions that are likely to have strong such connections.  Rank those topics in order of interest.  Although you will begin with your first choice, the other two remain alternatives if information on the first topic proves scarce.
  6. At this point, all groups should have a primary topic.  The next step is for each member to choose certain aspects of the physical environment of that region to become experts on.  Such aspects include:
    1. Landforms & geology
    2. Climate
    3. Water resources (surface water and groundwater)
    4. Ecosystems (i.e. vegetation, animal life & interrelationships)
    5. Soils

Each member should then do the following:  1) conduct additional research on the aspects of the physical environment for which they will be experts, and 2) read the remaining portions of the chapter on their region, which deals with the social aspects of the people that live there.

  1. Bring the results of your additional research to the group and share it.  Be certain to divide the workload equally, and to provide the work expected in a timely manner.  Remember that your participation within the group is specifically evaluated by your group members.
  2. Once all research has been shared, the group should then brainstorm, suggesting relationships between the environment and the people.  At first, you may reference the textbook, recalling the reading from the latter portion of the chapter.  Once initial relationships have been identified, some additional research may be necessary for a complete understanding.  Social aspects of the people may include:
    1. History
    2. Politics
    3. Agriculture
    4. Religion
    5. Language
    6. Culture
    7. Economics
    8. Social and family structure

You need not include all of the above aspects in your project, and others may arise.  The strength and significance of relationships will vary among regions.

  1. Once you have outlined all your research and identified all the relationships, you must plan the presentation.  As indicated previously, the presentation will be centered on one or more tri-fold display board(s), but should include other items.  Approach the presentation with this frame of mind:  your job is to educate your peers.  They must understand the details of the physical environments as well as how they connect to the people.  You are the teachers.  The presentation does not stand alone; you may issue hand-outs and you must interact with those that visit.  Include the following considerations when planning:
    1. How much explanatory text will you have and who will write it?
    2. Will all text be on the board or will you have hand-outs?
    3. What types of images will you use?  Photographs and maps are mandatory, but will you also include graphs or other diagrams?
    4. What will the flow of the presentation be like?  What is the best order for introducing information?
    5. Will you have additional items to create a true “sense” of the region, such as food, artwork, music, etc?
  2. Use the rubrics linked above to guide you in your progress.



Presentation Day:  On presentation day, the groups will be divided in half.  For half the period, half the groups will present as the others rotate and learn.  Then roles will be switched.  Every individual that visits a project will be learning from it, completing a response, and evaluating it.  Groups will rotate in a timed, orderly fashion.  At the end, group members will privately evaluate each other’s group performance.