Paper No. 187-1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM
SUCCESS AS A SMALLER FISH IN A BIG POND: A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO UNDERGRADUATE GEOLOGIC EDUCATION AS A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE FOR SECURING POST-BACCALAUREATE OPPORTUNITIES
Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) is an institution of higher education dominated by liberal arts baccalaureate degree programs. At this dedicated teaching institution, tenure-track faculty each teach 12 credits per semester without teaching or research assistants. Yet, despite these limited resources, MSU Denver graduates are experiencing success in securing meaningful employment and graduate school opportunities in the geosciences. Feedback from employers frequently indicates that MSU Denver geoscience graduates possess a strong work ethic and a high level of practical skill competencies. The presenters have gradually developed a holistic pedagogical approach that may be useful to other resource-limited institutions who are trying to increase the impact of their geoscience instruction. We incorporate undergraduate geology courses that go beyond the acquisition of core knowledge and require students to practice geologic techniques and modes of thinking within the context of real-world problems in the classroom, field, and lab. Students report that these approaches improve their understanding and retention of core concepts and their ability to select and apply appropriate strategies when faced with an unfamiliar problem. Each member of our small faculty gets to know each of our students through coursework, advising, or one-to-one undergraduate research, so that each of us independently reinforces the development of geoscience competencies in each student. Because we are a small program, we also partner with external resources in industry, government, and the wider community to broaden the range of real-world opportunities for our students. In this presentation, we will share selected assignments and approaches that help our students develop skill competencies that will make them strong candidates for employment or graduate school.