Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


O'BRIEN, Rachel, Department of Geology, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA 16335 and SHAFFER, Christopher, GIS Manager, Allegheny College, 520 N Main St, Meadville, PA 16335,

We developed two undergraduate research programs to achieve the seven intellectual and practical skill sets identified as essential learning outcomes for college graduates (AAC&U, 2008). The first was an 8 week summer research effort focused on characterizing surface hydrology and brittle deformational features for a ~2,000km2 watershed. It was similar to an REU in structure but not in the targeted student audience. The second program is a multi-year, bedrock-elevation mapping project for a 5,600 km2 region covered by glacial deposits. Both programs involve spatial data collection and analysis, including GIS approaches. More than 30 students have participated in these efforts, with some making contributions for 2-3 years on the mapping project. All of the work involves first and second year students, with ~20% of the participants pursuing majors outside of geology. We have used both Federal grants and financial aid work awards to fund the work. Technical skills learned by the students included map and aerial photo interpretation, measurement of strike and dip, contouring techniques, digitizing of existing maps, map overlay and spatial analysis, water sampling and wet chemistry techniques. We also observed gains in practical professional skills: note taking, oral and written communication, time management, problem solving, attention to detail, self-confidence, and comfort working as part of a team. Our experiences suggest that this research enhances a student’s: commitment to pursue a degree in the geosciences; academic performance in the classroom/field/lab; preparation for independent research on a senior project; and placement in graduate schools and/or professional jobs.