2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 94-3
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM

SUPPORTING STUDENT SUCCESS THROUGH INTENTIONAL PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION:  AN EXAMPLE FROM WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY


SIEWERS, Fredrick D., Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University, 1906 College Heights Blvd #31066, Bowling Green, KY 42101-1066, fred.siewers@wku.edu

The Geology Program at Western Kentucky University (WKU) works to promote the success of its graduating seniors through a capstone Professional Preparation course. This two credit hour, pass/fail course is taken by all students in the program, typically in the Spring of the senior year. Students learn to develop résumés and cover letters, and they give weekly professional presentations based on technical articles that the entire class has read. Each student receives a "friendly critique" from class colleagues based on presentation style and delivery, knowledge of the presentation topic, and ability to answer questions. Students also provide written summaries of three Departmental seminars, and they take the Area Concentration Achievement Test (ACAT), a nationally-referenced exit exam that WKU Geology uses for outcomes assessment.

Significantly, Professional Preparation also features presentations from program alumni and other geoscience professionals. These 1+ hour presentations give students a real sense of life after graduation, the breadth of the options that lay before them, and the often circuitous path to gainful employment and/or graduate school. Presenters are commonly employed in traditional geoscience fields, but have also spoken about their work as lawyers, solar energy experts, farmers, and K-12 educators. Program alumni are remarkably willing - even honored - to visit the class to share their stories and provide guidance to each year's graduating class. Most program graduates surveyed indicate that Professional Preparation was an important part of their undergraduate training. Similar programs at other institutions may facilitate student success after graduation.

Handouts
  • GSA14_Siewers_Presentation_VeryFinal.pptx (5.3 MB)