Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM
CURRICULUM AND PROGRAM ASSESSMENT IN THE GEOSCIENCES: WHERE THINGS STAND
The requirement for assessment of programs and curricula has increased dramatically during the past several years, mandated by both legislative and accrediting bodies. We find ourselves seeking a nationally normed, standardized examination to assess our programs and graduates, but since the early 1990s, when the Educational Testing Service (ETS) ceased offering its major field exam in the geosciences none has exited. In an attempt to understand national trends, in early 2003 a survey was sent to 500 geoscience programs in the United States to generally determine the assessment methods employed by other geoscience programs and specifically determine whether others are administering an exit examination for their graduating seniors. Twenty-seven percent of survey recipients responded. Nearly 100% of responding departments utilize traditional objective (multiple choice, short answer, and essay) exams for freshman-senior students. Multiple choice and short answer being more popular at the lower levels and essay more popular at the upper end. The expectation of undergraduate research increases for each class (from 11% of freshmen, mostly honors classes, to 72% of seniors). Eighty-nine percent of the respondents have a capstone requirement for majors, fulfilled by senior thesis, internship, major research/presentation, oral exam, public presentation, field study, seminar, and/or portfolio. Most respondents (73%) have no exit examination requirements. Final assessment of graduates is dominantly (56% of respondents) accomplished by the requirement of a major independent research project and presentation. Some departments (1.4%) offer their own exit exam, one statewide examination exists, and other programs utilize an in-depth exit interview. The only national examination being administered (by 12% of respondents) is the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) exam, which, unfortunately, is not nationally normed.