GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 74-10
Presentation Time: 4:10 PM


FORD, Richard L., FRANTZ, Carie M., YONKEE, Adolph, BALGORD, Elizabeth, HERNANDEZ, Michael W., MATTY, David J. and MATYJASIK, Marek, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Weber State University, 1415 Edvalson St - DEPT 2507, Ogden, UT 84408-2507

Weber State University (Ogden, UT) is an open-enrollment, dual-mission (regional university and community college) institution serving ~28,000 students. The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (7 tenure-line faculty, 110 undergraduate majors) has implemented a major curriculum revision informed by: (1) participation in NSF-sponsored Future of Undergraduate Geoscience Education summits; (2) analysis of job and graduate school placement of recent graduates; (3) consultation with our alumni advisory council about workforce readiness and local hiring trends; (4) participation in a NAGT Traveling Workshop focused on embedding sustainability in programs; (5) a matrix approach to curriculum analysis and design using lists of critical geoscience concepts and skills; and (6) integration of course-based undergraduate research projects. The restructuring represents both a change in focus and emphasis on high-impact teaching.

Alumni-placement data indicate that the environmental sector is one of the top employment areas for our graduates, matching recent results from AGI workforce studies. These data, combined with department-wide discussions facilitated by the NAGT Traveling Workshop Program, led to a department name change, from Geosciences to Earth & Environmental Sciences.

The matrix-based analysis of our Geology (BS) degree led us to: (1) add course requirements in applied hydrology and environmental geochemistry; (2) develop a “sophomore-bridge” geoscience methods and careers course to facilitate the transition from lower- to upper-division courses; (3) expand and revise our existing field methods course and summer field camp; (4) introduce a new senior seminar focused on societal issues; and (5) integrate course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURE) into the curriculum.

We will assess the success of our curriculum change through student retention metrics, senior exit interviews, graduate school admission rates, and job placement data.

As a department, we are also engaged in efforts to recruit a more diverse student body to the geosciences (supported by an NSF GP-EXTRA grant), develop a new multidisciplinary undergraduate degree (BS) in environmental science, and expand our undergraduate research opportunities. We present here our process and resulting curriculum.