A FRAMEWORK FOR LEARNING-CENTERED CURRICULAR INNOVATION IN THE DEPARTMENT OF GEOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON
The Professional Practices seminar includes vocational development exercises such as building a resume, a mock interview, researching graduate schools and composing a statement of purpose. The Critical Issues seminar challenges students to analyze a topical issue in depth in order to develop a ‘tool box’ of scholarly skills such as literature discovery and synthesis, critical review, and competency in the basic modes of scientific communication (written, oral, and visual – i.e., posters). Each Spring the theme varies: For example, in 2010 the topic was the geology of New Zealand in preparation for the 2010 Field Course. In 2011 the students discussed climate change, including analysis of the IPCC report.
Second year review is part of the Critical Issues seminar and is required of all students who have completed the introductory sequence of Physical Geology, Historical Geology and Mineralogy. In addition to initiating a portfolio of scholarly work (written, oral and poster presentations), students take an online multiple-choice exam covering the basics of Geology and revealing both strengths and weaknesses that need to be addressed so that they can enter their upper-level classes with confidence. While students can re-take the exam until they pass, the results of the “first take” are compiled and used to evaluate and assess department-wide attainment of content knowledge goals. This second year review has been implemented once and results will be discussed.