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Geography

College or Campus: College of Arts and Sciences

Student Learning Outcomes

UNDERGRADUATE

Knowledge of Geographic Principles

Students will demonstrate a proficiency in knowledge of essential concepts of physical and human geography including:

  1. Describing human-environment, and nature-society interactions as well as global human and environmental issues.
  2. Identifying and explaining the planet’s human and physical characteristics and processes, from global to local scales.

Scientific Inquiry, Tools and Critical Thinking

Students will demonstrate the ability to analyze, interpret, and draw conclusion about geographic problems and information including:

  1. Demonstrating proficiency in using geographical research tools including spatial statistics, cartography, remote sensing, GIS and GPS.
  2. Identifying, interpreting and analyzing geographic problems and processes.
  3. Formulating a research methodology and executing a formal student-led research project.
  4. Applying knowledge of global issues to a unique scientific problem.
  5. Identifying human and environmental issues on global, regional, and local scales and critically assess various perspectives on the issue.
  6. Evaluating the impacts of human activities on natural environments.
  7. Applying knowledge of global issues to local circumstances to evaluate the local effects of the issues.

Communication Skills

Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate geographic information utilizing both oral and written outlets by:

  1. Defending and communicating facts, ideas and research results via written, oral, graphical and quantitative outlets.
  2. Demonstrating the ability to evaluate and solve geographic problems effectively in collaborative settings working with other students.

Ethical and Social Responsibility

Students will appreciate the relevance of geographical knowledge to everyday living by:

  1. Applying geographical knowledge to everyday living.
  2. Demonstrating an appreciation and respect for the diversity of perspectives, world-views, and cultures.
  3. Showing an awareness and responsibility for the environment.

GRADUATE

The Department of Geography offers master's degrees (M.S. and M.A.) that prepare students for professional positions in government and the private sector, or to pursue a Ph.D. Both the M.A. and M.S. degrees require a thesis, and the time-to-completion is typically two years.

We require that students entering our graduate program have a minimum GPA of 3.0 from their bachelor’s program (usually within Geography). We also require an overall GPA of 3.0 to remain in good standing within the program. Therefore, we are confident that our students possess advanced knowledge of geographic principles and can apply them gainfully in professional and academic settings. To successfully complete the required thesis, our students must demonstrate proficiency in scientific inquiry, critical thinking, and effective communication skills. These principles form the basis for the Geography master’s program learning objectives.

1.Scientific Inquiry, Tools and Critical Thinking

Students will demonstrate the ability to analyze, interpret, and draw conclusion about geographic problems and information including:

  1. Demonstrating proficiency in using geographical research tools including spatial statistics, cartography, remote sensing, GIS and GPS.
  2. Identifying, interpreting and analyzing geographic problems and processes.
  3. Formulating a research methodology and executing a formal student-led research project.
2.Communication Skills

Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate geographic information utilizing both oral and written outlets throughout their thesis research by defending and communicating facts, ideas and research results via written, oral, graphical and quantitative outlets.

Assessment Plan

UNDERGRADUATE

The Department of Geography Department utilizes the required course “Capstone Experience in Geography” (GEOG 4800) to assess student achievement of its Learning Objectives. Students use their acquired knowledge and skills to plan and execute a research project. The project requires them to develop geographic research questions, employ relevant methods to gather data, conduct analyses, and communicate findings and conclusions. Working with a Geography faculty mentor, students can develop individual projects or work in small groups. Projects culminate in a final paper and a poster displayed at a departmental gathering at the end of the semester. The poster session is attended by all faculty and open to all students and the wider university community. Using the departmental learning objectives as an assessment rubric, members of the Assessment Committee review the posters and interview the students, having read the final papers prior to the poster session.

GEOG 4800 Capstone Projects, Fall Semester 2015

Department of Geography, Assessment Committee

Project Type/Topical Area:

Name/Group Members:

Project Title/Subject:

1. Knowledge of Geographic Principles (proficiency in essential concepts of physical and human geography; nature-society interactions; global human and environmental issues)

Superior ________                    Acceptable ________               Deficient ________

Notes:

2. Scientific Inquiry, Tools and Critical Thinking (proficiency in ability to analyze, interpret and draw conclusions about geographic problems and information; identifying human and environmental issues at multiple scales; proficiency in use of geographical research tools)

Superior ________                    Acceptable ________               Deficient ________

Notes:

3. Communication Skills (demonstration of ability to communicate geographic information utilizing both oral and written outlets; communicating facts and ideas; evaluating and solving geographic problems in collaborative settings)

Superior ________                    Acceptable ________               Deficient ________

Notes:

4. Ethical and Social Responsibility (demonstration of appreciation for the relevance of geographical knowledge to everyday living; diversity of perspectives; awareness and responsibility for the environment)

Superior ________                    Acceptable ________               Deficient ________

Notes:

Overall Assessment

Superior ________                    Acceptable ________               Deficient ________

Notes

GRADUATE

At the end of the first year, students are expected to present and defend their thesis proposal. The written document includes an introduction, statement of research question or research hypothesis, significance, context of the problem within the literature, methods, timetable, and references cited. The defense involves a presentation by the student followed by response to questions. Unanimous approval by the voting members of the committee is required for a student to pass a proposal and thesis defense, and signifies that completion of the thesis will satisfy the Department’s learning objectives.

The thesis is typically completed by the end of the second year and represents the culmination of the student’s research. Thesis research represents an attempt to answer a research question or test a research hypothesis of significance to the discipline of Geography. After the thesis is circulated to the committee, an oral defense is scheduled. As with the proposal defense, the oral thesis defense provides the student the opportunity to demonstrate that she or he has met the department’s learning objectives. The Department of Geography attests to this by  assigning a passing grade to the Report on the Oral Thesis Examination Defense filed with the College of Arts & Sciences.

 

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