2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)

Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 5:00 PM


MANDUCA, Cathryn A., Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057, MACDONALD, R. Heather, Department of Geology, College of William and Mary, PO Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187, ORMAND, Carol J., Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057 and FEISS, P. Geoffrey, GSA Foundation, 3300 Penrose Place, Boulder, CO 80301, cmanduca@carleton.edu

Geoscience departments face opportunities and challenges arising from new public interest in climate change, changes in the energy sector, opportunities for interdisciplinary research,  reduced budgets, and more.  A broad understanding of the responses taking place in geoscience departments improves the ability of each individual department to respond strategically to its own particular circumstances.  To foster better communication and sharing among geoscience departments, the Building Strong Geoscience Departments project hosted two workshops in the past year.

‘Assessing Geoscience Programs: Theory and Practice' brought together participants from 31 departments to discuss strategies that improve the quality and efficiency of departmental program assessment. New requirements for institutional accreditation are focusing on the articulation of learning outcomes and direct measures of student learning.  A collection of learning outcomes, assessment plans and instruments is now available on the project website, accompanied by essays describing departmental assessment experiences, workshop presentations, and summaries of discussions.

‘Strengthening Your Geoscience Program: A Practical Workshop with Ideas and Examples' was attended by 62 people from 36 institutions. Participants chose from sessions addressing Program Assessment, Curriculum and Program Design, Programming for Students beyond the Curriculum, Preparing Students for the Workforce, Recruiting and Retaining Students, and Building a Department Team that showcased strategies in use across the country.  Each department developed an action plan for use on return to their home institution.  

The Building Strong Geoscience Departments project, sponsored by NAGT, AGU, AGI and GSA has involved more than 150 of the approximately 650 geoscience departments nationwide.  Past participants indicate that the program allowed them to build a valuable national perspective on the activities of geoscience departments, to create a network of colleagues engaged with departmental issues, and to implement specific improvements in their own programming. In the next year a series of travelling workshops will bring programming onto campuses.  For further information visit the website: serc.carleton.edu/departments.