• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM


RHODES, Dallas D., Department of Geology and Geography, Georgia Southern University, 62 Georgia Avenue, Statesboro, GA 30460-8149, DRhodes@GeorgiaSouthern.Edu

Matrix mapping of program learning outcomes and course activities provides a rich graphical portrait of program content and can be used as a starting point for program assessment in the geosciences and other disciplines. The form presented here places program learning outcomes (PLOs) in the left-hand column of the matrix and groups them by content areas, e.g., discipline specific knowledge, problem solving skills, and communication skills. Because every PLO will require assessment by one or more techniques, outcomes should be generalized to keep their number, and therefore the assessment effort, reasonable. Many programs have 10-12 PLOs. The other columns in the matrix are for information about the geoscience courses used in the major. Core courses (typically physical and historical geology) are arrayed first, followed by required courses, and then electives (both in course number sequence). The matrix also includes rows for indicating the types of activities that occur during the courses. Instructors for the courses complete the matrix by indicating: 1) the amount of emphasis placed on each of the PLOs during the course (e.g., strongly emphasized, emphasized, considered, and not considered) and 2) the types of activities that occur during the course such as writing assignments, poster or oral presentations, group projects, fieldwork, and computer methods. When completed the matrix serves as a map that can be used to determine the courses in which assessment of each of the PLOs will occur. Most often these will be required courses in which the PLO is “strongly emphasized.” If a PLO is “not considered” in several required courses, the learning outcome may need to be revised, deleted, or incorporated into additional courses. Similarly, if important course activities are found to be fewer than desired, new activities can be incorporated into appropriate courses. The matrix produces a synoptic view of a program’s goals and where the program’s learning outcomes are assessed. Furthermore, the matrix has proven an effective means of conveying this information to institutional assessment officers, accrediting agencies, and institutional decision makers.
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