Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

Geoscience Education for Realtors, Appraisers, Home Inspectors, and Homeowners

Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

Geoscience Education for Realtors, Appraisers, Home Inspectors, and Homeowners

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

As urban development encroaches onto less suitable sites, knowledge of the connection between the ground beneath one's home and the home itself becomes increasingly critical to the homebuyer. General geology courses usually fail to teach application or the information retrieval skills needed to make the connection. In Colorado, a focused course to inform Realtors and their related professionals of the value of geology proved also to reach their clients. Course organization conveys concepts through a hierarchical framework of reasoning, starting with science and its methods, then geology as a science of materials, process, and change-through-time, then geology as a profession with an information system and public service sector, and thereafter selected content. Realtors and their allied professions want to understand pertinent geology. Through experiencing the connection between land and structures in their work, the resulting curiosity makes Realtors ideal students for the instructor who can impart practical application to lay professionals. The National Association of Realtors is the largest professional society in the world, and it has more political influence than any geoscience society. Educating these professionals is a way to bring the value of geology to a wider spectrum of citizens ana public officials.

INTRODUCTION

All homeowners benefit from understanding the relationship of their homes to the geological sites on which they rest. Urban residents benefit even more, because the prices of their homes are usually far greater. Urban development units tend to be larger, denser, and growth over time extends these into less ideal site areas. Most homeowners have never had a geology course, especially one that stressed awareness of personal application. However, most homeowners have contact with Realtors (Realtor is a trademarked name of the National Association of Realtors) and appraisers. Where geoscientists can educate these latter professionals, appreciation for the value of geology in application extends to them and to the clients they serve. This paper describes an applied course designed for Realtors and appraisers that the author founded and taught for about eight years in Colorado for one unit of continuing education (ceu) credit. This audience differs from that in introductory geology courses, and the one-day course format is unlike formal education in college. This paper describes the nature of these students, ways to teach that meet their needs, and the benefits the author witnessed. It begins by noting problems that contribute to lack of homeowners' awareness of importance of geology to their homes.

Problem 1: Neglect of Appropriate Education - On May 8, 2002, I looked to my forty participants in the classroom and did my usual poll: "How many of you know that you have a state geological survey?" Four hands went up in affirmation. I followed with "How many of you can describe what it does that might be relevant to your profession?" Two of the four hands went down. Participants were Realtors and appraisers, who had selected the one-day course: "Geologic Hazards for Realtors, Appraisers, and Property Owners" as an elective for a single continuing education credit (ceu). These professionals worked with land and saw, on a daily basis, cases where geology affected property valuation and transaction. As the United States population increased, construction and development encroached onto ever increasingly hazardous areas. The exponential growth in financial losses associated with development in flood plains (Nuhfer, 1994) began to appear in the Colorado Front range in landslides and swelling soil damage. Between April 1998 and April 2000, landslide damages went from over $5 million to about $40 million in the Colorado Springs area. The Colorado Geological Survey was working hard to produce new detailed swelling soil maps and booklets for homeowners about these hazards to keep up with developments that encroached onto less suitable terrain on Pierre Shale in the Front Range foothills. …

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