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Mary Savina. Photo courtesy of Mary Savina and Carleton College.

Keeping Curricula Current

How Can Geoscience Curricula Prepare Our Students for the Future?

Go back to the beginning of this presentation by Mary Savina from Carleton College.

Assessing and Evaluating a Curriculum

So, you've designed a curriculum, focusing on the goals, skills, experiences, values, and content you feel are essential and appropriate for your institution. How do you decide whether it meets the needs of your students, especially as those needs are changing over time? Here are some things to consider.

Here are some qualities of a curriculum responsive to change:

Conversations about designing (or redesigning) a curriculum always bring up a few perennial questions. While these may vary from department to department, a few seem to be universal:

Paralleling the changes occurring in the field of geoscience, there are also changes taking place in higher education. Trends include:

A responsive curriculum also connects to college/university-wide initiatives, such as Writing Across the Curriculum, quantitative reasoning, and other programs.

As your curriculum evolves, what kinds of changes do you see in the students graduating from your program? Sources of data to answer this question include students' capstone projects, departmental reviews, informal reports from alumni, and course content.

At Carleton, over the past three decades, senior capstone projects have changed in a number of ways. They are now less likely to be "local" projects or projects directly related to a faculty member's research program. They are more likely to include instrumental analyses that cannot be conducted at Carleton (requiring collaboration with other facilities). And they are more likely to focus on outreach, education, or the environment.

Ultimately, it is possible to build flexibility into a curriculum, even without offering new courses. To maintain this kind of flexibility and respond to new trends, faculty need to be encouraged and assisted in their efforts to develop new areas of expertise. And while it is important to respond to changes over time, it is not essential to respond to every new trend.

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