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Western Kentucky University Geology, Western Kentucky University

Information for this profile was provided by Fredrick Siewers, Western Kentucky University. Information is also available on the [link Department web site: http://www.wku.edu/geoweb/index.php Program web site: http://www.wku.edu/geology/index.php 'program website']. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree.

Program Design & Assessment

Overview

The geology program at WKU offers four distinct major concentrations, depending on the career goals of the student. Two concentrations are for those who plan on becoming a professional geologist; those concentrations result in a BS degree in Geology. The other two concentrations are for future Earth and Space Science teachers and for those with a general, non-career interest in geoscience. The Earth-Space and General Geoscience concentrations result in a BA degree in Geology.

Strengths of this program
The main strengths of the Geology Program at WKU are its diversity of degree offerings, student's early exposure to geology in the field and lab, undergraduate research and attention to post-graduate employment opportunities.

Types of students served
Most of the students in the geology program at WKU are from Kentucky, with a small percentage from neighboring states. In general, over 50% of geology students are first-generation college students. The major attracts primarily white males, although over 30% of those in the major are female. The number of women is comparable to other STEM disciplines at WKU. Only a small number of geology majors are from minority populations.

Program Goals

The goals of this program are as follows:

  1. to educate students about all aspects of the Earth, including its material composition and structure, its vast history, and the processes operating on its surface and interior.
  2. to provide early exposure to geology in the field and laboratory
  3. to provide mentored research experiences for undergraduates
  4. to prepare students for a career in the geosciences, including K-12 Earth Science education, and future graduate education.

The learning goals were informed by the following resources:
For many years geology at WKU offerred only a BS degree that graduated 10 or fewer majors per year. In an effort to broaden its appeal and boost graduation rates, the program diversified its degree offerings, with new BA concentrations in Earth and Space Science education and General Geoscience. The program also reasoned that student interest in geology would increase with the availability of new engaged learning experiences, research opportunities and focused attention to post-graduate employment opportunities and graduate school. These goals allowed the program to grow to over 70 geology majors, the highest of any geology program in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

How program goals are assessed
Outcomes assessment of the overall program is done via the ACAT Geology Exam (http://www.collegeoutcomes.com). Focused assessment of the specific goals of the program has not been formally conducted because enrollment numbers and graduation rates have been high. Program viability at WKU is based primarily on the number of program graduates and the amount of time it takes students to graduate with a bachelors degree.

Design features that allow goals to be met:
NA

Alumni Careers

Graduation rate
Number of majors: 70
Number of graduates per year: 10
Fluctuations in majors and graduates: the program has doubled in the number of majors and graduates over the last 10 years.

Careers pursued by our alumni
Program graduates are employed in the oil & gas and environmental sectors, state government, and in related fields (e.g. GIS, K12 Education). Only about 10-15% of program graduates go immediately into graduate school, although an increasing number are pursuing graduate education after two or more years of employment. The career paths of students align fairly well with the goals of the program. Exit surveys of the Geology program students indicate a high degree of satisfaction with the program.

Courses and Sequencing

Diagram of course sequencing and requirements

Entry into the degree
Most students discover the geology major through our general education offerings in physical and historical geology.

Core Courses
We have a common 20 HOUR CORE across our four concentrations

Geol. 111 The Earth (3)
Geol. 112 Earth History (3)
Geol. 113 The Earth Lab (1)
Geol. 114 Earth History Lab (1)
Geol. 308 Structural Geology (3)
Geol. 380 Intro. Field Techniques (3)
Geol. 460 Sed. / Strat. (3)
Geol. 499 Professional Preparation (2)

Elective courses and Requirements
Since the program has four concentrations, there are four paths that students may choose among to complete their bachelors degree. Each program has "required electives" that are fairly proscribed. Additional elective credits (6-12 hours) are typically satisfied through elective courses (e.g Paleontology, Hydrogeology), one-time course offerings (e.g. Basin Analysis, Economic Geology), field courses (e.g. Bahamas, Mojave Desert), or Independent Research. Students are sometimes given credit for REU Experiences or (rarely) internships.

1. ADDITIONAL GEOSCIENCE REQUIREMENTS (BS Extended Major) - 49 hours
Geol. 270 Analytical Techniques (3)
Geol. 310 General Hydrology (3)
Geol. 330 Mineralogy (4)
Geol. 350 Petrology (4)
Geol. 415 Environmental Geology (3)
Geol. 485 Geology of Fossil Fuels (3)
Geog. 316 Fundamentals of GIS (4)
Geog. 317 Geographic Information Systems (4)
Geog. 391 Spatial Data Analysis (3)
Additional Approved Geology Electives (12)
Geology Field Camp or GIS Certificate (6)

2. ADDITIONAL GEOSCIENCE REQUIREMENTS (BS Major/Minor) - 40 hours
Geol. 270 Analytical Techniques (3)
Geol. 310 General Hydrology (3)
Geol. 330 Mineralogy (4)
Geol. 350 Petrology (4)
Geol. 485 Geology of Fossil Fuels (3)
Geog. 316 Fundamentals of GIS (4)
Geog. 317 Geographic Information Systems (4)
Geog. 391 Spatial Data Analysis (3)
Additional Approved Geology Electives (6)
Geology Field Camp or GIS Certificate (6)

3. ADDITIONAL GEOSCIENCE REQUIREMENTS (BA Earth-Space Science) - 24 hours
Geol. 311 General Oceanography (3)
Geol. 325 Intro to Minerals and Rocks (3)
Geog. 121 Meteorology (3)
Astr. 104 Astronomy/Solar System (3)
Astr. 106 Astronomy/Stellar Systems (3)
Astr. 405 Astronomy for Teachers (3)
Additional Approved Geology Electives (6)

4. ADDITIONAL GEOSCIENCE REQUIREMENTS (BA General Geoscience) - 19 hours
Geol. 311 General Oceanography (3)
Geol. 325 Intro to Minerals and Rocks (3)
Geog. 121 Meteorology (3)
Geog. 316 Fundamentals of GIS (4)
Additional Approved Geology Electives (6)

Capstone
Geol. 499 - Professional Preparation (2 credit hours, Pass/Fail)

Supporting Science and Math Courses
1. SUPPORTING COURSES (BS Extended Major) - 16 hours
Math 136 Calculus I (4)
Biol. 122/123 Evolution, Diversity and Ecology (3)
Chem. 120/121 College Chemistry I (5)
Phys. 180/181 Introductory Modern Physics or Phys. 201 College Physics I (4)

2. SUPPORTING COURSES (BS Major/Minor) - 16 hours
Math 136 Calculus I (4)
Biol. 122/123 Evolution, Diversity and Ecology (3)
Chem. 120/121 College Chemistry I (5)
Phys. 180/181 Introductory Modern Physics or Phys. 201 College Physics I (4)

3. SUPPORTING COURSES (BA Earth-Space Science) - 14 hours
Math 116 College Algebra (3)
Chem. 105/106 Fundamentals of General Chemistry (4)
Phys. 201 College Physics I (4)
CS. 145 Introduction to Computing (3)

4. SUPPORTING COURSES (BA General Geoscience) - 10 hours
Math 116 College Algebra (3)
Phys. 201 College Physics I (4)
CS. 145 Introduction to Computing (3)

Other key features of this program:

The BS concentrations have required two GIS courses and a spacial stats course for the past 10 years
The senior capstone course involves résumé preparation, development of a LinkedIn profile, a professional presentation, face-to-face meeting with program alumni and geoscience professionals and the Geology Senior Assessment exam (ACAT - http://www.collegeoutcomes.com)
Three of our 4 program concentrations require a minor. Most minors are between 18-21 hours (6 to 7 courses).

Supporting Materials



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