HOW WELL DO UNDERGRADUATE GEOSCIENCE PROGRAMS HELP STUDENTS DEVELOP 21ST CENTURY WORKFORCE SKILLS? A BAYESIAN MODELING ASSESSMENT
We used a Bayesian statistical model to determine the posterior probability of students practicing desired workforce skills in undergraduate geoscience programs, using program profiles as the model prior, conditioned by the likelihood of a student practicing workforce skills in each course based upon survey responses. Probabilistic Monte Carlo simulations of students in each example program were used to calculate the likely number of times a student practiced each skill.
Activities to help students develop skills related to geologic reasoning, working as part of a team, quantitative skills (algebra), applying skills in new scenarios, evaluation of scientific literature, temporal thinking, spatial thinking, written communication, and managing uncertainty are frequently encountered by students; on average, students encounter these activities at least seven times as part of an undergraduate program. In contrast, students encounter activities to help them develop an understanding of societal relevance and systems thinking, on average, fewer than three times as part of an undergraduate program.
Our results provide a snapshot of the state of workforce skill development across undergraduate degree programs. The model framework and results may be used by individual programs as a tool for reflecting on where workforce skills are developed and for examining program structures that may improve student skill development.