Building Strong Geoscience Departments > Student Recruitment > Assess Your Efforts

Assess Your Recruitment Efforts

Written by Carol Ormand, based on ideas compiled from the 2005 workshop on Developing Pathways to Strong Departments of the Future and the 2007 workshop on Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors.

Recruitment poster from the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at New Mexico Tech. Click on image to see a larger version.
How will you know if your recruitment efforts are working? The obvious but sometimes incorrect answer is "If our enrollments go up, it will be because of our efforts at recruitment." As scientists, we know that correlation does not indicate causation. Moreover, if you are employing several recruitment strategies, how will you know which is the most effective use of your time and energy? To assess your recruitment effectiveness accurately, you'll need to use an assessment tool that indicates causation. Here are some examples of such tools.

Know Your Baseline

Geoscience Enrollments Jump Sharply in 2008-2009

According to the American Geosciences Institute, undergraduate geoscience enrollments rose 8% in 2008-2009 as a result of increased student interest in energy and environmental issues. Data like these are essential for understanding whether your enrollments are increasing because of your recruitment efforts or because of external factors.

Use Formal Assessment Tools

Geoscience Program Assessment Instruments

This collection of geoscience program assessment instruments includes alumni surveys, student surveys and exit interviews, other surveys, course evaluations, rubrics, portfolios, exams, and other instruments from geoscience departments across the U.S. Each specific instrument within the collection includes information on the original design, use and impact of the instrument.

Examples of Student Exit Surveys

Many departments survey their graduating seniors to find out why they chose a major in the geosciences, as well as student perceptions of the strength and weaknesses of their programs. Here's a detailed example (Rich Text File 91kB Jan14 08) from the Geology and Geography Department at Georgia Southern University and a very brief example (Microsoft Word 21kB Feb28 08) from the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas, El Paso. For additional examples, see our collection of program assessment instruments, including many exit surveys.

Example of a Student Survey and the Results

The Geology department at St. Thomas University, in St. Paul, MN, has grown dramatically in the past decade. A New Curriculum and A New Vision: My How We've Grown (PowerPoint 5.9MB Mar5 07) is a description by Tom Hickson and Lisa Lamb of their vision for their department, how they put that vision into place, and student responses to a Lickert-scale survey. Our collection of program assessment instruments also includes many examples of student surveys.

AIR Questionnaire

The American Institutes for Research has developed an assessment instrument designed to measure changes in attitudes and behaviors related to enhanced likelihood of students remaining in the geosciences career pipeline. It can be used to measure the effectiveness of student recruitment activities.

Conduct Informal Assessments

Informal student surveys can also provide valuable information about students' choices. Ask your advisees why they chose to major or minor in geoscience, and why they've chosen to continue in your program. Ask any students who leave the geosciences why they are choosing to do so.


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