All course information is listed within this syllabus.

TURF 434: Turfgrass Edaphology (3 credits). Characterization of soil physical properties for the establishment and maintenance of sports turf; includes rootzone construction.

Prerequisite: TURF 235; Recommended Preparation: SOILS 101


Instructor for TURF 434

Dianne Petrunak
Academic Adviser, Turfgrass Science and World Campus

Department of Plant Science
242 Agricultural Sciences and Industries Building
University Park, PA 16802

Phone (Office): 814-863-0139
E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

Course Overview

TURF 434 is offered to students that are entering their final year of the turfgrass science major. This course builds on introductory turfgrass and soil courses. In this course, you will learn to interpret soil physical results using the United States Golf Associated specifications for greens construction. You will learn how to evaluate and manipulate the physical properties of a soil in order to provide a quality turfgrass stand under varying conditions. You will use new information as well as physical and quantitative tools provided to aid in soil management decisions. You will defend your decisions to other students in group-exercises conducted on a computer bulletin board. You will also submit your decision-making process and defend your decisions in writing, in the form of business proposals. This class has a series of labs, some of which run over several weeks. You will use class material and the physical and quantitative tools learned in the labs to inform your decision-making processes. Your grade will be based on exams, lab reports, and practicums. The practicums and the labs are interrelated. The practicums, which are mini-case studies of actual turfgrass situations and problems, require you to apply techniques and information learned in the physical lab periods. The practicums are graded on the initial draft, final draft, and your critique of other student's solution to a problem. TURF 434 is an advanced course in soil physical properties.

Course Objectives

  • Understand which soil factors are critical for proper turfgrass growth under high-use conditions.
  • Understand how proper soil selection and maintenance influence proper turfgrass growth.
  • Develop a working knowledge of the technical terminology and specifications for proper soil selection and maintenance.
  • Develop a capability to properly select soils and soil amendments.
  • Develop a basic knowledge of turf nutrition, and be able to develop soil, plant, and fertility management programs based on a working knowledge of turf nutrition.
  • Apply concepts learned to solve advanced problems in turfgrass management.
  • Communicate and work together with other students through the course materials.

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials

A soil sample submission is required for students who have not completed this activity in SOILS 101.

  • Soil sample submission: Students must send in a soil sample with a $25.00 check. Information on how to do so is found on the Particle Size and Sand Sieve Test page.


This course requires that you access Penn State library materials specifically reserved for this course. You can access these materials by selecting Library Resources in the Course Navigation Menu, or by accessing the Library E-Reserves Search and searching for your instructor's last name.


The turnaround time for graded assignments is generally one week or less.


In TURF 434 the quizzes are provided simply for your practice and study. The same type of questions will be on the exams. See the information below about the exams for this course. Note: All quizzes are multiple-choice, computer-graded and you may take the quiz up to 5 times.


There are 3 labs throughout the course, each is worth 50 points.

Labs consist of exercises that will involve the manipulation of actual soil samples or the data related to soil samples. During two projects the students will mail a soil sample to a testing facility for laboratory analysis. Student lab results will be submitted to the instructor via Canvas assignments as directed in the lab pages. Individual grades for each lab are determined as follows:

  • 10 points for organization and on-time completion
  • 10 points for correctly stating procedures used
  • 10 points for accuracy in calculations
  • 20 points for conclusion and summary

Submitting your lab report: Your lab reports are likely to contain a series of numbers that when unformatted are displayed in a jumble and very difficult to interpret. Therefore, your lab report should be submitted to the instructor in the following formats only—listed here in order of preference:

  • As a Microsoft Word document (.doc) uploaded to the lab assignment page in Canvas and/or sent as an attachment to an e-mail message using the private mail tool within the course. These are, by far the most preferred method. The formatting that you use will be very easy for me to read.
  • In the body of an e-mail message using the private mail tool within the course. Be sure to click the 'Don't Wrap' button so that your columns of numbers will be clearly displayed. (Hint: Click the 'Preview' button to see how your message will be displayed before sending it!)
  • When all else fails—fax your report to me. Contact me for my fax number.


You will be required to complete one homework assignment on organic matter. This assignment will be worth 10 points.


There are two two-hour exams: a midterm and a final. Each exam is worth 150 points. See your Syllabus in Canvas for specific dates for each exam.

Class Participation

Class participation is worth 40 points. Each student is expected to actively participate in class and/or group discussions that take place via the course e-mail or discussions. Students who actively participate throughout the length of the course will receive all 40 points.

Course Layout

TURF 434 consists of 14 modules. The Syllabus in Canvas outlines the topics we will cover in this course, along with the associated time frames and assignments.

During each week that the course runs, you will usually be expected to work through one or two modules. Each module is followed by a quiz that you can use to test your understanding of the concepts that were presented in the modules. The quizzes are not graded but are highly recommended. They are provided as study aids for you to prepare for two two-hour exams. The questions presented in the quizzes represent the kinds of questions you will see on the exams—as a matter of fact, some of the questions in the quizzes are on the exams!

There are also three labs that must be completed during the course. These labs have both individual and group activities. You will work through the material in the labs, generate data, and share your results with the others in your group. Then using the group averages you will be expected to draw some conclusions about the results. You are free to discuss your ideas with others in your group.

In terms of how much time students spend on the course, previously enrolled students have found that they need to connect to Canvas online on average 5 times a week. Two of these times for at least an hour or an hour and a half in order to work through a module or lab. The three other times they spend about 20 minutes or so taking a quiz, checking private mail, or interacting with other students via the discussions. When these times occur is up to you, however, keeping up with the course schedule is a very important part of being able to participate effectively. There are readings from the text and other sources that must be completed offline.

Grading Policy

The following table is the grading criteria for the course.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Point Value
Lab 1 50
Lab 2 50
Lab 3 50
Homework 10
Class Participation 40
Exam 1 (Midterm Exam) 150
Exam 2 (Final Exam) 150
TOTAL: 500

The following table is the grading scheme for the course.

Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage Points
A 100% – 93% > 464
A- < 93% – 90% 450–464
B+ < 90% – 88% 440–449
B < 88% – 82% 410–439
B- < 82% – 80% 400–409
C+ < 80% – 78% 390–399
C < 78% – 70% 350–389
D < 70% – 60% 300–349
F < 60% < 300

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Undergraduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State World Campus students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. The library website has a lot to offer, but can be overwhelming. A guide has been created to serve as your introduction to important library resources, services, and important pages within the library. The Online Student Library Guide is updated regularly by the online librarian and is intended to provide a level of comfort through an introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the internet.

Getting Help With Canvas Courses

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It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Try to include information such as the specific course page, quiz question, etc. you were on; what you attempted to do when that failed; the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen; the date and time when your problem occurred; and any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.).

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Accessibility Information


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and discussion postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of messages. Please review Virginia Shea's "The Core Rules of Netiquette" for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Penn State Policies

Login Policy

Students are expected to log in regularly to keep up to date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

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Please read the academic integrity guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's academic integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff, and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

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In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus' disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.

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