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Geological Sciences

College or Campus: College of Arts and Sciences

Student Learning Outcomes

UNDERGRADUATE

GEOL 1010 How the Earth Works

  • Be able to identify and classify common rocks and minerals.
  • Understand how geologic resources form, how they are used, and the differences between renewable and nonrenewable resources.
  • Understand the scientific basis for both relative and absolute ages in geologic time.
  • Understand plate tectonics and its central role as the unifying theory of geology.
  • Be able to articulate the relationship between volcanoes, earthquakes, and mountain belts and tectonic plate boundaries.
  • Understand basic agents and processes that impact the earth's surface including rivers, glaciers, wind, and oceans.
  • Understand how humans act as geologic agents and the impacts we make on the environment.
  • Understand the scientific process and scientific basis for geologic interpretations.

GEOL 1200 The Mobile Earth

  • Learn the concept of continental drift, the evidence upon which it was based, and the reasons for its rejection by the contemporary scientific community.
  • Become familiar with the concept of paleomagnetism, its use in developing the hypothesis of sea-floor spreading.
  • Understand the process of subduction and the recognition of its link of sea-floor spreading in formulating the theory of plate tectonics.
  • Know the geologic time scale and understand the concept of geologic time and the history behind our efforts to determine age of the Earth.
  • Understand the process of continental break-up through the development rift systems (as exemplified by the East African Rift Valley) and their opening to form oceans.
  • Know that mid-ocean ridges represent the surface manifestation of divergent plate boundaries and understand the processes occurring at these sites (as exemplified by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the east Pacific Rise and Iceland).
  • Understand the concept of hot spots on the Earth’s surface (as exemplified by Hawaii and Yellowstone), their probable origin and their role in the break-up of continental landmasses.
  • Understand transform faults such as the San Andreas, their role as conservative plate boundaries, the earthquakes they produce, and our effort to predict earthquakes and mitigate their effects.
  • Understand convergent plate boundaries (as exemplified by the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia and the Mediterranean), the volcanoes associated with these boundaries, and their impact on society.
  • Become familiar with the process of terrane accretion (as exemplified by the North American Cordillera) as a prelude to continental collision.
  • Know the geologic time scale and understand the concept of geologic time and the history behind our efforts to determine age of the Earth.
  • Understand the processes associated with continental collision such as Appalachians, Alps and Himalayas Mountains.
  • Recognize the role of supercontinents, such as Pangea, in influencing the geologic, climatic and biological evolution of the Earth.

GEOL 1300 Geology of National Parks

  • Learn basic geologic concepts, such as plate tectonics, rock names, ordering of strata, volcano types, geologic time, landscape development for deserts and glaciers, drainage patterns, and the evolution of continents.
  • Learn about the location and geology of specific national parks and monuments.
  • Learn how to collect scientific data from disparate sources, including books, videos, and the internet, and integrate this information.
  • Learn to use a knowledge base to analyze and understand the geology of national parks and monuments.

GEOL 1350 Natural Disasters

  • Know how the scientific method is used investigate natural phenomena, including the benefits and hazards of making assumptions and performing hypothesis tests.
  • Understand why natural hazards are stochastic phenomena and how this prevents us from predicting their occurrences.
  • Understand the geological origins of especially important natural hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and abrupt climate changes induced by earth cataclysms.
  • Understand how human activities help cause or increase the severity of many natural disasters.
  • Know how to calculate and interpret recurrence intervals, probabilities, and risks while understanding the estimated values are only as good as the underlying data.
  • Know how to identify the major natural hazards present in their communities.

GEOL 2080 Geology of the Solar System

  • Gain a better understanding of the planets, moons, and other objects in our solar system in addition to their distribution and dynamical relationships.
  • Learn about and understand important geologic processes that have led to the development and evolution of celestial objects in our solar system.
  • Develop an understanding and appreciation for the important scientific questions that are the focus of ongoing research and future spacecraft missions.

GEOL 2110 Introductory Oceanography

  • Understand the nature of the ocean floor and how ocean basins form and evolve in the context of the plate tectonic model.
  • Understand the basic principles that govern ocean circulation in surface ocean waters, including the Coriolis effect, Ekman transport, circulatory gyres, upwelling, and downwelling.
  • Understand the essentials of thermohaline circulation and the essentials of deep-water formation.
  • Know the basic properties of sea water, including salinity, temperature, pressure, pH, nutrients, and the dissolved contents of oxygen and carbon dioxide in ocean water.
  • Have an essential understanding of how waves, tides, cyclonic storms (hurricanes), and tsunamis function.
  • Understand the ocean’s role in the development of El Nino and La Nina events.
  • Know the basics of latitude and longitude, and be able to relate it to the history of ocean exploration and modern scientific discoveries.
  • Be conversant with common coastal landforms and how they form.
  • Understand the basics of nutrient availability and how it governs where ocean life is most and least productive.
  • Be conversant with a general overview of marine life, including the more common plankton, fishes, mammals, and birds as well as how certain types of manage buoyancy, salinity, and food.
  • Be familiar with the more common ocean resources, as well as aspects of managing such resources in light of scarcity, abundance, and environmental degradation as it applies to resources.

GEOL 2150 Environmental Geology

  • Understand the role of plate tectonics in causing earthquakes and how this understanding can aid the assessment of seismic hazard.
  • Become aware of the scientific limitations on earthquake prediction and the relatively easy reduction of damage from earthquakes through seismic hazard zoning, building codes and public education.
  • Understand the relative dangers of different types of volcanoes and their occurrence in the plate tectonic context. Students learn the volcanic and intrusive rocks formed by igneous processes as well as the minerals that constitute them.
  • Know the basic fundamentals of earth science as applied to the interaction between human activity and the natural environment.
  • Are introduced to volcano monitoring technology and the current state of eruption prediction.
  • Have an understanding of fundamental river processes and the interaction between a river and its floodplain. Students will learn to calculate flood recurrence intervals from flood histories.
  • Examine the costs and benefits, to both humans and to ecosystems, of both technological approaches (e.g., dams and levees) and land-use planning approaches (floodplain mapping and zoning) to avoiding flood damages.
  • Be able to describe the different types of landslides and how to recognize their potential in the field. Sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and their formation are introduced in the context of their role in hillslope failure.
  • Evaluate technologies for preventing landslides as well as simpler means of avoiding landslide damage via mapping and zoning at the societal scale and wise home-buying at the individual level.
  • Understand the occurrence and availability of both surface and subsurface water resources and the role of the hydrologic cycle.
  • Understand the role of wells in depleting groundwater resources and, in some cases, causing subsidence of the ground surface.
  • Be able to distinguish between confined and unconfined aquifers and be able to describe how groundwater flows through them.
  • Understand fossil fuel, nuclear, hydroelectric, geothermal and renewable energy production today and the environmental impacts of the extraction and transport of energy fuels as well as of their waste by-products.
  • Understand the future of energy sources with respect to supplies/reserves and the demands of society. They will understand the fundamentals of the greenhouse effect and its strength in future scenarios.
  • Become familiar with the geologic history of climate change and the corresponding impacts on ecosystems and will apply that to the current debate over human-induced global warming.
  • Learn the long-term cost-effectiveness of preventing environmental damage rather than repairing it.

GEOL 2310 Water and Pollution

  • Know the main sources of pollution for surface and groundwaters.
  • Understand how the hydrologic cycle works and its different parts.
  • Know the different physical properties of waters and their role in groundwater movement.
  • Understand the origin of groundwater and how contaminants move in groundwater.
  • Understand how ecosystems work, the food web and the Eltonian Pyramid.
  • Know the different types of population growth and the different stages in population growth.
  • Understand the role of bacteria as decomposers and their role in biochemical oxygen demand.
  • Understand the factors that determine the concentration of oxygen in water and the role of bacteria and organic matter in this parameter.
  • Understand the role of thermal pollution in aquatic systems and its effects on living organisms.
  • Understand how the chemical cycles of nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur, and mercury work and the impact of man in those cycles.
  • Know the effect of excess nitrogen and phosphorous in aquatic systems.
  • Understand the process of eutrophication and its impact on fish and other aquatic organisms.
  • Know the impact of burning of fossil fuels in the nitrogen, sulfur, and mercury cycles, as well as in the distribution of heavy metals in the environment.
  • Know the effects of contamination of lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic in living organisms.
  • Know how pesticides contaminate the environment and their effect on living organisms.
  • Understand the origin of petroleum and the fate of petroleum contaminants in waters.
  • Know the effects of petroleum spills on living organisms.
  • Understand the purpose of the different wastewater treatment methods and how they work.

GEOL 3150 Mineralogy

  • Classify, characterize, and identify major rock-forming minerals in hand specimen and thin section.
  • Use identified minerals to infer conditions of associated geologic environments.
  • Understand the importance of minerals to society and the various subfields of geology.

GEOL 3600 Structural Geology

  • Know how to use minor structures to interpret flexural slip folds from structures associated with bedding plane slip, interpret shear folds from their axial planar cleavage, determining the sense of fault movement from structures associated with faults.
  • Know the classification of faults and fractures, the rock-types associated with them, and the nomenclature of fault associations.
  • Know the classification folds and fold systems, the terminology used to describe them and the means by which they are measured and analyzed.
  • Learn how to read geologic maps and solve simple map problems using strike lines and cross sections for areas showing dipping strata, unconformities, faults and folds.
  • Learn how to use the stereographic projection to plot planar and linear data, determine angular relationships, solve rotational problems, and analyze complex structural data in areas involving folding and faulting.
  • Know the types of foliation and lineation, their origin, and their relationship to folding and fabric.
  • Understand the concepts of stress and force, normal and shear stresses, the principal stress axes, hydrostatic and deviatoric stresses.
  • Understand the concept of strain, stain types and their measurement, the strain ellipse and its graphical representation, pure and simple shear, and progressive deformation.
  • Understand elastic and viscous strain in rock behavior, the effects of temperature, time, pressure, pore fluids and strain rate on rock strength, and the mechanisms of rock deformation.
  • Know how strain is measured using spherical objects, pebbles, fossils, folds and balanced cross sections.
  • Understand the mechanics of faulting, and the link between shear stress and brittle failure, fault orientation and the principal stresses, and faulting and earthquakes.
  • Understand the mechanics of folding, the link between fold mechanisms and geometry, and the processes of buckling, shear folding, fold interference, kink bands, and the controls on fold mechanism.
  • Know how to use minor structures to interpret flexural slip folds from structures associated with bedding plane slip, interpret shear folds from their axial planar cleavage, determining the sense of fault movement from structures associated with faults.

GEOL 4960 Field Geology

  • Students will greatly strengthen your observational accuracy in the field, and this skill will translate into other aspects of data description and interpretation.
  • Students will gain new field experience, perspective, competence, and confidence as a field geologist.
  • Students will develop the capability to produce geologic maps and cross sections of unknown terrains working individually and/or in groups.
  • Production of geologic maps will allow students to demonstrate the capacity for synthesizing and interpreting field data and compiling that information into a working understanding of the assigned field area.

GRADUATE

Degree Title: Master of Science (MS 3321)

Program Overview : The Master of Science in Geological Sciences program combines graded coursework and thesis research to train students in advanced geological and scientific analysis. Students conduct research in collaboration with a faculty advisor in one of three research clusters: solid earth and planetary dynamics, sedimentary geology and paleobiology, and environmental and surficial processes. Thesis research trains students in all stages of scientific investigation including hypothesis generation, data collection and analysis, interpreting research data, and presenting those results in a written thesis and oral presentation. Students are also trained in grantsmanship and encouraged to participate in scientific meetings. The MS program is designed to train and prepare students to be successful in continuing into a PhD program or obtaining positions in the industry, government, or consulting sectors.

Program Learning Outcomes: Graduates will be able to:

  1. Interpret, analyze, discuss, and critique scientific papers about geological problems and research techniques.
  2. Identify geological problems, formulate hypotheses, and generate high quality written proposals for investigating questions.
  3. Apply different geological methods to collect data and solve problems.
  4. Analyze, discuss, and formulate conclusions about geologic data to solve research questions.
  5. Produce high quality written analyses of data, results, interpretations, and conclusions in a scientific format.
  6. Present and defend original scientific research in oral, poster, and written formats.

Assessment Plan

UNDERGRADUATE

BS3321 & BS3323 Programs

Students in both BS3321 and BS3323 are required to take a 6-credit hour capstone field course prior to graduation. The course has both field and classroom components and requires students apply much of what they have learned in geology to solve a series of increasingly complex problems. The department decided to use the student performance in this capstone class to assess program learning outcomes because it requires students to collect and interpret a range of geological data. The course is taught by multiple faculty (3-4) per year and each faculty member assess the performance of each student in the 5 program outcomes.

  1. Understand the scientific method and how it is applied in research.
  2. Understand how the scientific principles and physical laws of other fields apply to the study of the Earth.
  3. Gain an understanding of the principles and laws that are specific to our discipline, such as an appreciation of the concept of deep time.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to research a topic and write up the results in an appropriate format.
  5. Experience the gathering and interpretation of geological data.

The students are scored from 1 (low) to 3 (high) based on a rubric designed to capture the essence of the outcomes in terms of the projects within the course.

BA3321 Program

The outcomes are the same as for the BS programs, however, the manner in which these can be evaluated are different. The students in the BA program are not required to take the field course and have a wide range of courses to choose from at the 3000- and 4000-level, which total 26 credit hours, to complete the degree. Therefore we plan to develop a rubric in Spring 2019 that faculty teaching upper division classes can use to evaluate the success of each BA student in reaching the program outcomes appropriate to the course.

Learning Outcome

Score

Ranking Description

Example Scenarios

a) Understand the scientific method and how it is applied in research

7-10

Able to construct and test multiple hypotheses

A student is able to articulate testable hypotheses regarding the geologic history of a study area

4-6

Able to construct and test a single hypothesis

A student is able to articulate a testable hypothesis regarding the geologic history of a study area

1-3

Unable to construct a testable hypothesis

A student is unable to articulate a testable hypothesis regarding the geologic history of a study area

b) Understand how the scientific principles and physical laws of other fields apply to the study of the Earth

7-10

Able to use basic scientific and mathematic principles to solve problems on their own

A student can collect appropriate data and calculate unit thicknesses

4-6

Able to use basic scientific and mathematic principles to solve problems only with continued prompting and assistance from instructors

A student can collect appropriate data and calculate unit thicknesses with minor assistance.

1-3

Unable to articulate or use basic scientific and mathematic principles are used in solving fundamental geologic problems

A student can collect data and calculate unit thicknesses with significant assistance.

c) Gain an understanding of the principles and laws that are specific to our discipline, such as an appreciation of the concept of deep time

7-10

Able to apply core curricular course content to solving geologic problems without prompting

A student is capable of identifying the minerals, sedimentary textures/structures, and fossils present to determine a rock type and identity of a geologic unit.

4-6

Able to apply core curricular course content to solving complex geologic problems with prompting

A student is capable of identifying the minerals, sedimentary textures/structures, and fossils present to determine a rock type and identity of a geologic unit with some assistance.

1-3

Unable to apply core curricular course content to solving geologic problems with prompting

A student can identify the minerals, sedimentary textures/structures, and fossils present to determine a rock type and identity of a geologic unit with extensive assistance.

d) Demonstrate the ability to research a topic and write up the results in an appropriate format.

7-10

A student is able to draft and/or write up their work in a way that effectively communicates the results of their field investigations with no supervision

A student is able to construct an accurate bedrock geologic map, cross section, and/or report without supervision.

4-6

A student is able to draft and/or write up their work in a way that effectively communicates the results of their field investigations only with minor supervision

A student is able to construct an accurate bedrock geologic map, cross section, and/or report with minor prompting and assistance.

1-3

A student is unable to draft and/or write up their work in a way that effectively communicates the results of their field investigations even with supervision

A student is able to construct an accurate bedrock geologic map, cross section, and/or report with significant prompting and assistance.

e) Experience the gathering and interpretation of geological data

7-10

A student collects and interprets sufficient data to form a reasonable conclusion of the distribution of rocks in a field area

A student collects and correctly plots a sufficient amount of data to allow accurate interpretation of structure on a bedrock geologic map.

4-6

A student collects and interprets insufficient data to form a reasonable conclusion of the distribution of rocks in a field area

A student collects data that are incorrectly distributed to allow an accurate interpretations of

structure on a bedrock geologic map without assistance.

1-3

A student collects and interprets insufficient data to form any reasonable conclusion of the distribution of rocks in a field area

A student collects data that are incorrectly distributed to allow an accurate interpretations of structure on a bedrock geologic map even with assistance.

 

GRADUATE

MS thesis degree (MS3321)

Students pursuing a Master of Science thesis degree in Geological Sciences are required to complete a minimum of six letter-graded courses to broaden their education in the geosciences and related natural sciences as well as to enhance their training in chosen areas of specialty. Graduate-level courses in Geological Sciences include the review of geological processes and problems through lectures and discussions of scientific literature, training in the use of software, laboratory, and field equipment, and the analysis of geological data to produce interpretations that are presented in written and oral formats through laboratory exercises and longer-term projects. Student learning in graduate courses is assessed through weekly laboratory exercises, written exams, and presentation of the results (written, oral, or both) of projects. This combination of assessment tools allows students to demonstrate their ability to apply concepts and skills learned in class as well as their ability to effectively communicate scientific data and interpretations. Through coursework students achieve learning outcomes 1, 3, and 4.

The key component of the MS thesis degree in Geological Sciences is the thesis research project. MS thesis students collaborate with their advisor to develop a thesis project during the first semester. In addition to the thesis advisor, the student selects two other faculty members to serve on the thesis committee. The project’s hypotheses, significance, background, and methods are then developed into a research proposal that is written during the second semester, and submitted to the student’s thesis committee. Members of the thesis committee read and evaluate the written proposal in terms of presentation, content, and intellectual merit. The MS student then presents their research proposal in a 20-minute oral defense to the committee and the department (faculty and students). Following the presentation, the candidate is questioned by the general audience and then detailed questions by the thesis committee in a closed session. These oral questions are intended to assess the students grasp of the background literature of the topic they are investigating, their knowledge of the methods they will be using, and their ability to reflect on the potential significance of their work. Following the closed session, the student is either passed and may continue with the project or is asked to make revisions to the project proposal and may need to defend the proposal again. Through the written proposal and proposal defense, students achieve learning outcomes 1 and 2.

In conducting the thesis research project, students work with their advisors to collect data using the methodology laid out in their proposal, analyze and interpret the data, and formulate conclusions based on the results. This process involves regular meetings with the advisor reviewing the progress and results of the research project as well as discussing scientific literature relevant to the student’s research questions. In this manner, students are continuously assessed in terms of their research progress, acquisition of necessary skills, and knowledge of their field of specialty. Working directly with their thesis advisor, students achieve learning outcomes 1, 3, and 4.

The MS thesis degree culminates in the writing of a thesis and a final oral defense. The written thesis is a scientifically sound written document explaining the student’s research project, its results, and its implications at a level equivalent to research published in scientific journals. The thesis is written in consultation with the advisor, who provides feedback and guidance typically through several drafts. Once the thesis has been approved by the advisor it is submitted to the thesis committee who then reads and evaluates the thesis in a manner similar to the peer-review of scientific publications. The student then prepares a 30-minute oral presentation on the results of the project which is open to the public. Following the presentation, the candidate is questioned by the general audience and then detailed questions by the thesis committee in a closed session. The questions are designed to assess the student’s knowledge of their research project, the details of the methods they used, the soundness of their interpretations and conclusions, and their ability to discuss the significance of their work in a broader context. Following the closed session questions, the committee then convenes to discuss the student’s performance in the defense and the quality of the thesis. With this evaluation the student may: 1) pass with no or minor revisions of the thesis necessary, 2) pass with substantial revision of the thesis necessary which must be approved by the committee, 3) fail requiring major revision of the thesis and another defense, or 4) fail requiring withdrawal from the program (only applied if the student has already failed a thesis defense). With the written thesis and thesis defense, students achieve learning outcomes 5 and 6.     

Upon a student’s completion of the defense (either in pass and conferral of degree or fail and withdrawal from the program), each member of the thesis committee will complete an assessment rubric in order to evaluate the student’s achievement in each of the six learning outcomes (scored 1 to 3 for each). Assessment scores of all graduate students completing the MS thesis degree each year (typically in Spring/Summer semester) will be compiled by the Graduate Chair during the following Fall semester and presented to the faculty.

The student will be asked to complete an exit survey to assess the quality and rigor of the coursework, the quality of advising, and their overall learning experience in the program. The survey will consist of a series of direct Likert scale questions as well as written response questions. Data from the exit surveys will also be compiled at the end of the year by the Graduate Chair and presented to the faculty to assess the program as a whole.

Geological Sciences MS thesis Student Assessment Rubric

 

Score

1. Limited

2. Acceptable

3. Excellent

1) Interpret, analyze, discuss, and critique scientific papers about geological problems and research techniques.

 

Displays a basic

understanding of the

field.

 

Displays an

understanding of the

field. Adequate exploration of

interesting issues

and connections.

Demonstrates

proficiency as well as

creativity in drawing on

multiple sources. Synthetic and

interdisciplinary.

2) Identify geological problems, formulate hypotheses, and generate high quality written proposals for investigating questions.

 

Demonstrates

competence but displays little insight.

 

Hypotheses present

with reasonable

structure and

connected to

observations.

Hypotheses are strong,

comprehensive, and

coherent. Has some

original ideas, insights,

and observations.

3) Apply different geological methods to collect data and solve problems.

 

Applies standard

techniques. Does not recognize

limitations of

data. Techniques

were applicable.

Uses appropriate

theory, methods

and techniques.

Appropriately

explains limitations

of data. Techniques

were applicable.

Suggests and utilizes

Improvements to

standard methods and

techniques. Limitations

are thoroughly and

competently discussed.

4) Analyze, discuss, and formulate conclusions about geologic data to solve research questions.

 

Relies on others

to suggest data

that are relevant

to solving a problem.

Literature review is

adequate but not

critical. Weak conclusions with minimal support.

Identifies relevant data. Incorporates previous work.

Sound conclusions

with reasonable

structure and

strong support.

Identifies relevant data. Provides critical evaluation of previous work. Conclusions are

strong, comprehensive,

and coherent.  

5) Produce high quality written analyses of data, results, interpretations, and conclusions in a scientific format.

 

Writing is adequate.

Structure and

Organization are

weak, but sufficient.

Illustrations legible,

technically correct,

and appropriate.

Well written and

organized.

Concise, elegant,

engaging. Technical

content and graphic

design of illustrations

well planned/executed.

6) Present and defend original scientific research in oral, poster, and written formats.

 

Clear and coherent,

partially understands

or addresses questions, responses

may have some gaps

in logic or inconsistencies.

Clear and coherent.

Engages appropriate

audiences. Grasps

intent.

Compelling, persuasive,

and accessible to

multiple audiences.

Articulately addresses

questions.

Total Score:                       

MS non-thesis degree (MS3324)

Students pursuing a Master’s of Science non-thesis degree in Geological Sciences are required to complete a minimum of eight letter-graded courses to broaden their education in the geosciences and related natural sciences as well as to enhance their training in chosen areas of specialty. Graduate-level courses in Geological Sciences include the review of geological processes and problems through lectures and discussions of scientific literature, training in the use of software, laboratory, and field equipment, and the analysis of geological data to produce interpretations that are presented in written and oral formats through laboratory exercises and longer-term projects. Student learning in graduate courses is assessed through weekly laboratory exercises, written exams, and presentation of the results (written, oral, or both) of projects. This combination of assessment tools allows students to demonstrate their ability to apply concepts and skills learned in class as well as their ability to effectively communicate scientific data and interpretations. Through coursework students achieve learning outcomes 1-3.

MS non-thesis students take part in a Research and Professional Development Seminar (GEOL 6902) each semester in which they meet weekly with faculty members in the Department of Geological Sciences, visiting geoscientists from other universities and industry, and alumni. Through these meetings students gain knowledge on a diverse set of research topics and methods, read, analyze and discuss scientific papers, and develop verbal and written skills necessary to participate in the geoscience job market. Students are continually assessed through these meetings in terms of their understanding of basic and advanced concepts in the geosciences, research techniques, and written and verbal communication skills. Students can, therefore, be provided guidance to improve their growth as geoscientists. With the non-thesis seminar, students achieve learning outcomes 1-3.

The MS non-thesis degree culminates in a comprehensive exam written and graded by the student’s academic committee that is given once the student has completed all eight of their required courses. The academic committee is composed of three faculty members of the Department of Geological Sciences who have instructed the student in at least one course. The comprehensive exam consists of two to three multifaceted questions and problems that require the student to utilize the knowledge and skills acquired from their coursework. At least half of the questions involve the use of physical samples, analytical tools, and/or computer applications to solve geologic problems and write detailed reports about the student’s findings. Answers to the questions are assessed by the academic committee who determines the quality of the responses. The student may: 1) pass without need for corrections; 2) pass with minor corrections necessary; 3) fail requiring a re-examination; 4) fail requiring withdrawal from the program (only applied if the student has already failed an examination). With the comprehensive examination, students achieve learning outcomes 3 and 4

Upon a student’s completion of the comprehensive exam (either in pass and conferral of degree or fail and withdrawal from the program), each member of the academic committee will complete an assessment rubric in order to evaluate the student’s achievement in each of the four learning outcomes (scored 1 to 3 for each). Assessment scores of all graduate students completing the MS non-thesis degree each year (typically in Spring/Summer semester) will be compiled by the Graduate Chair during the following Fall semester and presented to the faculty.

The student will be asked to complete an exit survey to assess the quality and rigor of the coursework, the quality of advising, and their overall learning experience in the program. The survey will consist of a series of direct Likert scale questions as well as written response questions. Data from the exit surveys will also be compiled at the end of the year by the Graduate Chair and presented to the faculty to assess the program as a whole.

Geological Sciences MS non-thesis Student Assessment Rubric

 

 

Score

1. Limited

2. Acceptable

3. Excellent

1) Interpret, analyze, discuss, and critique scientific papers about geological problems and research techniques.

 

Displays a basic

understanding of the

field.

 

Displays an

understanding of the

field. Adequate exploration of

interesting issues

and connections.

Demonstrates

proficiency as well as

creativity in drawing on

multiple sources. Synthetic and

interdisciplinary.

2) Identify geological problems, formulate hypotheses, and generate high quality written reports.

 

Demonstrates

competence but displays little insight.

 

Hypotheses present

with reasonable

structure and

connected to

observations.

Hypotheses are strong,

comprehensive, and

coherent. Has some

original ideas, insights,

and observations.

3) Apply different geological methods to collect data and solve problems.

 

Applies standard

techniques. Does not recognize

limitations of

data. Techniques

were applicable.

Uses appropriate

theory, methods

and techniques.

Appropriately

explains limitations

of data. Techniques

were applicable.

Suggests and utilizes

Improvements to

standard methods and

techniques. Limitations

are thoroughly and

competently discussed.

4) Produce high quality written and oral responses to to multifaceted questions about geologic issues.

 

Writing is adequate.

Structure and

organization are

weak, but sufficient. Clear and coherent,

answers, but responses may have some gaps in logic or inconsistencies.

Well written and

organized. Answers are clear and coherent and display full understanding of the questions.

 

Concise, elegant,

engaging. Answers are clear and coherent and display exceptional understanding of the questions.

 

Total Score:                    

Department of Geological Sciences Graduate Program Exit Survey

Congratulations on completing your Master of Science degree in Geology! The faculty of the Department of Geological Sciences would appreciate a candid evaluation of your graduate experience at Ohio University by completing this survey. It should take less than 20 minutes to complete. Our main purpose is to learn from you how we can improve the quality of education and training for our students as well as the overall graduate student experience. Your honest and thoughtful responses are essential in improving our program for graduate students in the future. Please reflect on those experiences that were positive, those that could be improved, and any possible additions to the program that you think would be beneficial.

Your responses are voluntary and you may skip any question. Responses will be provided to the Graduate Chair in aggregate form, without any personal identifiers so your anonymity will be maintained.

Coursework

1. Students were adequately informed of the goals and requirements of courses, the course content, and the methods of evaluation to be used.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

2. The instructors in my classes utilized instructional methods that provided me with the opportunity to achieve the objectives of the program.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

3. The methods of instruction in my classes were appropriate for the level of the classes.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

4. The courses I took gave me a good grounding in the theories and methodologies of geology.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

5. The workloads and expectations in my courses were high enough to be appropriate for graduate credit.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

6. My graduate courses challenged me to analyze, explore, question, and synthesize old and new knowledge and skills.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

Advising/Thesis Research

7. I had sufficient access to and time with my thesis advisor to successfully complete my thesis research.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

8. My thesis advisor provided me with clear guidance and good mentoring in the completion of my thesis research.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

9. My thesis advisor provided me with clear guidance and good mentoring related to my career goals and professional development.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

10. I found my thesis research project to be intellectually challenging.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

11. My thesis research project was a good learning opportunity that facilitated the acquisition of useful skills that will aid me in a career in geosciences (or a related field).

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

12. The resources and space (office and laboratory) available in the Department of Geological Sciences were adequate for the completion of my thesis research.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

Overall Experience

13. The department fostered a supportive environment for learning and research and encouraged scholarly interaction and accessibility among faculty and students.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

14. I am well prepared for employment in geology.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

15. I am well prepared to continue my geology education at a higher level.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

16. In general, my overall geology educational experience has been worthwhile.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

17. I found the geology graduate program to be challenging.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

18. I would recommend Ohio University as a place for geology graduate education.

1. Strongly Disagree   2. Disagree     3. Neutral       4. Agree          5. Strongly Agree        N/A

Open Questions

What are the strengths of the Department of Geological Sciences graduate program?

What are areas in need of improvement in the Department of Geological Sciences graduate program?

What additional courses, experiences, or opportunities would you like to have seen in the Department of Geological Sciences graduate program   

Evidence of Student Learning

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Use of Student Learning Evidence

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