Curriculum Design and Revision
The curriculum is the centerpiece of a geoscience program. As you build or revise your curriculum, which elements are essential? Which are optional? What are the goals of your program's curriculum? While the resources below probably won't answer these questions for you, they illustrate the answers other departments have reached, and some describe the process of getting there.
Collections: Course and Curriculum ProfilesWe asked each participant in the 2007 Workshop on Connecting Geoscience Departments to the Future of Science: New Structures for Research and Curriculum to describe either a program/curriculum or a course in their department that connects to the future of science. We used the information they submitted to make
A collection of course profiles
A collection of curriculum profiles
Curriculum Design Strategies and Resources
This exercise is often cited as particularly useful by participants in our Visiting Workshop Program. We ask faculty to describe an ideal graduate of their program, to focus attention on programmatic goals for their students.
For many years, the Geology Departments at Carleton College and the College of William and Mary have utilized a "matrix approach" to assessing and revising their curricula. Rows of the matrix represent essential skills to be developed and columns represent courses within the core curriculum. This allows faculty to see where skills are developed and whether there are any "skills gaps" within the curriculum.
The Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, implemented a top to bottom revision of its curriculum, guided by both philosophical and practical considerations. Dave Mogk describes both their approach and the result.
This presentation, by Kip Hodges, was given at the April 2007 workshop on Connecting Geoscience Departments to the Future of Science: New Structures for Research and Curriculum. Kip's perspective is that Earth and space science are becoming increasingly multidisciplinary, oriented toward solving the grand challenges facing our society. Our programs, too, then, will need to become multidisciplinary, encouraging problem-solving. But finding solutions to problems will not be enough; we will also need to work with policy makers and communicate effectively with the public.
This presentation, by Mary Savina, was given at theApril 2007 workshop on Connecting Geoscience Departments to the Future of Science: New Structures for Research and Curriculum. Mary describes the Carleton College Geology Department's approach to curriculum design and revision. Their faculty considers what skills their students will need, and focuses on developing those skills throughout the curriculum, so that students have many opportunities to practice.
Geology and the Liberal Arts
Barb Tewksbury, at Hamilton College, describes her department's approach to student recruitment in her presentation, Recruiting Broadly: Aiming Beyond the Career Geoscientist, (Acrobat (PDF) 57kB Oct28 07) from the 2007 workshop on Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors. Focusing on how a geoscience degree is excellent preparation for a multitude of career options has guided their curricular design choices over the years.loading the playerThis talk lasts 21 minutes.
View the talk using Quicktime (Quicktime Video 234MB Dec3 07)
Geosciences at a Research University
Tim Bralower describes his department's approach to student recruitment in his presentation, Designing Attractive Programs, (Acrobat (PDF) 1.8MB Feb27 08) from the 2007 workshop on Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors. Knowing that their students have a wide variety of interests and career aspirations, they offer a wide variety of degree programs in the geosciences. In particular, they've built some interdisciplinary programs around the expertise of their faculty in emerging fields.loading the playerThis talk lasts 18 minutes.
View the talk using Quicktime (Quicktime Video 623.2MB Dec3 07)
These two case studies were written by participants at the 2007 workshop Geoscience Courses that Prepare Future Teachers (sponsored by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers) which took place at Carleton College. Dr. James Ebert (SUNY - Oneonta) and Dr. Rebecca Dodge (University of West Georgia) examine how their respective departments have adapted their curricula to serve pre-service and in-service teachers and sustain department viability.
This part of the Teaching in the Field site from On the Cutting Edge speaks to how infusing field experiences into all aspects of the geoscience curriculum can help address programmatic goals for departments. It is also the jumping off point for a suite of pages throughout the rest of the Cutting Edge site which provide ideas and advice on how to teach particular subjects in the core curriculum in the field.
References and Additional Readings
- AMS, 1999, Bachelors Degree in Atmospheric Science. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, v80, p475-480.
This statement describes the minimum curricular composition, faculty size, and facility availability recommended by the American Meteorological Society for an undergraduate degree program in atmospheric science/meteorology.
- Buchwald et al., 2001. Robustly Useful Ideas as Geology Department Planning Tools.
The Carleton College Geology department found that identifying "robustly useful ideas" helped them to set priorities for their curriculum and related programs, as Ed Buchwald explains in this short article.
- College of Exploration, US Geoscience Literacy Frameworks.
Overview diagram showing the relationships between Atmospheric Science, Climate, Earth Science, and Ocean Science literacy frameworks developed by geoscience educators. This page includes links to each of the geoscience literacy frameworks, as well as to a list of themes they share. These frameworks provide an integrated, less abstract approach to science literacy, with natural links to contemporary environmental issues.
- Council of Undergraduate Research, 2007, Developing and Sustaining a Research-Supportive Curriculum: A Compendium of Successful Practices, edited by Kerry K. Karukstis and Timothy E. Elgren.
This publication shares successful practices that enable faculty and institutions to design, implement, and sustain a research-supportive curriculum.
- Drummond, 2001, Ten Principles of Geoscience Departments, Part 1, citation and bibliographic information.
This column by the editor is the first of a two-part exploration of ten common principles among geoscience departments. It is intended as a conceptual framework that departments can use to think strategically about the strength of their academic and administrative positioning on their campus. This first part deals with five academic issues.
- Drummond and Markin, 2008. An Analysis of the Bachelor of Science in Geology Degree as Offered in the United States, Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 56, n. 2, p. 113-119.
This analysis of degree programs in the U.S. provides departments undergoing program review a basis for comparison with other institutions and national norms.
- Kelso et al., 2001, A Geology Program Revised, citation and bibliographic information.
This article describes a survey which the authors conducted to ascertain the views of geoscience faculty as to what concepts, teaching methods and courses should be considered the core of the curriculum.
- Loudin, M., 2004, Where in the World Will We Find Our Future Geoscientists?: One Employer's Perspective, Eos Trans. AGU, 85(47), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract ED31B-0748.
In this poster from the 2004 AGU Fall Meeting, the author lays out the hiring situation in the petroleum industry and how geoscience departments can benefit by turning out graduates with the skills oil companies need.
- National Resource Council, 1995, Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers, citation and bibliographic information.
Recommendations are aimed at creating a new PhD that would retain the existing strengths of the current system while substantially increasing the information available, the potential versatility of students, and the career options afforded to them by their PhD education.
- Tomorrow's Professor #93: Reinventing Undergraduate Education. (more info)
This is an excerpt from the report of The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University.
- Tomorrow's Professor #152: Changing the Graduate Student Experience (more info)
In this excerpt from their 1999 article in Change, the authors argue that there are fundamental, structural problems with the system of graduate education and that any real reform effort will have to go well beyond the initiatives that have been tried so far.
- Williams, Warner, and Warner, 2004, Subject-Area Knowledge Measured by Scores on the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) Fundamentals Examination and the Implications for Academic Preparation, Journal of Geoscience Education, 52(4), 374-378.