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Example Learning Outcomes and Competencies

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Competency Models


These examples are excerpts from the program descriptions submitted by workshop participants. Examples were selected to illustrate the range of approaches and topics used across many institutions and types of programs. For more information see best practices for creating learning outcomes (coming soon).

Quantitative and Data-related Skills

  • Critically evaluate data and interpretations, and succinctly communicate data and observations using spreadsheets, graphical and/or spatial analysis tools.
  • Graduates will understand data collection techniques and instrument capabilities, and will be able to collect, analyze, and interpret geoscience data through the use of computers, field and laboratory equipment, software, and instrumentation appropriate to the geosciences.
  • Know the design and use of meteorological instruments, and techniques for collecting and interpreting the data.
  • Acquire advanced technical and mathematical skills that will be useful for careers and/or advanced studies in atmospheric sciences and related disciplines.
  • Graduates will be able to apply mathematics to describe atmospheric phenomena and use computer software to analyze atmospheric data.
  • Be able to collect data, apply algebraic and graphical techniques to analyze data, and interpret results.

Scientific Research Skills and Understanding of Scientific Process

  • Use appropriate field and analytical tools for the purpose of data collection and analysis.
  • Critically evaluate data and interpretations, and succinctly communicate data and observations using spreadsheets, graphical and/or spatial analysis tools.
  • Access and utilize the geologic literature.
  • Use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet, and communicate their work professionally–orally and in writing.
  • Use scientific and spiritual reasoning wisely.
  • Graduates will be able to effectively communicate scientific concepts or the results of scientific research in both written and oral form. Graduates will be familiar with sources of scientific information and be able to utilize scientific literature in geophysics and important allied fields.
  • have demonstrated an understanding of scientific methodology and the interdisciplinary nature of the geosciences, culminating in a capstone experience involving collection and analysis of multiple data sets to interpret Earth processes.
  • Students will conduct original scientific research, generating scientific questions/hypotheses prior to embarking on data collection, utilize and/or design methods to address the geologic question, problem, or hypothesis, collect relevant data, interpret the data, assess the questions/hypotheses, discuss the results, and present conclusions orally and in writing.
  • Gain hands on experience in an internship, research project or community outreach.
  • Students will utilize scientific methods to design and execute research projects that include collection, analysis and interpretation of data.
  • Demonstrate competence in design, execution, and communication of research.
  • Demonstrate competence in design, execution, and communication of professional practice.

Mapping, Field and Observation Skills

  • Read and comprehend a topographic map and a geologic map; use appropriate technological tools (e.g. Brunton compass, GPS, GIS); practice methods of hard rock analysis and make rock thin sections; practice micro-paleontological techniques in fossil identification and separation; practice sediment size separation and analysis; practice rock and sediment core logging techniques; practice geological field techniques, outcrop depiction and interpretation.
  • Methods, Tools, and Technology: Understand and use appropriate field and laboratory methods, tools, and technologies to analyze Earth systems.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of geologic maps, including their construction and interpretation. Development of basic geologic field skills is an essential component of this expectation.

Understanding of Temporal Scale

  • Recognize and utilize the laws of superposition and faunal succession in deciphering Earth history.
  • Understand the scope of geologic time, and explain the divisions of the geologic time scale; relate fossil evidence to biological evolution; understand geologic age-dating method.
  • Students will understand basic aspects of geologic time and geochronology.



Spatial Skills

  • Graduates will comprehend the concepts on which analytical tools for spatial analysis are based.
  • Graduates will create geographic representations to interpret data and communicate information.
  • Demonstrate understanding of multiple spatial and temporal scales and patterns.
  • Create, read, and interpret topographic maps, geologic maps, and cross-sections.


Communication Skills

  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate complex concepts and data to expert and non-expert audiences.
  • Communicate effectively in both oral and written formats as well as be comfortable with the language of geology.
  • Graduates will be able to effectively communicate scientific concepts or the results of scientific research in both written and oral form. Graduates will be familiar with sources of scientific information and be able to utilize scientific literature in geology and important allied fields.
  • Be able to explain ideas and results through written, statistical, graphical, oral and computer-based forms of communication.
  • Graduates will be able to express concepts and ideas in a clear and logical manner, both orally and in writing.
  • Communication: Students will write and speak clearly about complex problems in Earth science for a variety of formal and informal audiences.
  • Be able to clearly express geoscience concepts orally and in writing, present results from laboratory and field investigations, and effectively incorporate appropriate maps and graphs into presentations and reports.
  • Explicate and critique science and technology issues in clear written and oral presentation.

Soft Skills


Teamwork

  • Independently, and as part of a team, apply relevant science, economics, engineering, and policy to problem analysis and proposed solutions.
  • Collaboration: Students will work effectively in interdisciplinary groups.
  • Leadership: Students will think innovatively and entrepreneurially about problems in Earth science and effectively advance their ideas.


Interdisciplinary Problem Solving

  • Develop appropriate knowledge and skills in one of the subfields of geology.
  • Demonstrate competence in integrative and interdisciplinary thinking. .
  • Demonstrate competence in connecting classroom concepts and principles to real-world practice.
  • Upon completion of the course of instruction, the student will be able to explain the scientific aspects of the environment as an integrated system.
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills: Generate a scholarly product in a capstone course that requires disciplinary knowledge, technical proficiency, information collection, and the synthesis and interpretation of data.
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of how geologic processes and materials intertwine with societal needs.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to apply scientific reasoning, technology and collaborative skills to solve geologic problems.
  • Students will demonstrate their engagement with local, regional, national, and international issues regarding water resources.
  • Students are able to demonstrate an understanding of Earth systems as series of processes that impact one another.
  • Students are able to identify areas where our geologic understanding is lacking and recognize scientific problems.
  • Analyze environmental problems at the interface of natural and human systems in an interdisciplinary fashion.
  • Independently, and as part of a team, apply relevant science, economics, engineering, and policy to problem analysis and proposed solutions.
  • Graduates will be able to apply physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics, as appropriate, to understand Earth science processes.
  • Graduates will be able to apply geoscience knowledge and critical thinking skills to identify and address a range of Earth science problems.
  • Be able to explain current climate in terms of basic physical and dynamical processes, and explain the mechanisms responsible for climate change.
  • Demonstrate an ability to synthesize concepts from a broad range of disciplines, and apply them to problems in climate science.
  • Recognize important moral dimensions of scientific issues and apply ethical frameworks to these challenges
  • Develop the substantive, analytical and ethical skills necessary to anticipate emerging threats, challenges and opportunities in the global arena and respond effectively.


Geoscientific Skills and Knowledge

  • Upon completion of the course of instruction, the student will be able to summarize the cycles of the elements Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Silica in the ocean.
  • Upon completion of the course of instruction, the student will be able to explain the driving forces that led to earth formation and the formation of the hydrosphere, lithosphere and atmosphere.
  • Basic Processes of the Atmosphere: Understand the thermodynamics, forces responsible for atmospheric motion, and the interactions of radiation in the atmosphere and with the Earth's surface.
  • Interactions and Feedbacks of the Atmosphere: Understand how the atmosphere interacts with other components of the Earth System to exchange matter and energy on short and long timescales.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to solve theoretical and applied problems in surface water hydrology, groundwater hydrology, aqueous geochemistry, watershed management, and groundwater modeling.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to chronicle the formation of the geologic materials through which groundwater moves, and the landscape upon which surface water flows.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of the governing concepts related to all components of the Earth system (meteorology, geology, oceanography, astronomy) and the relationships that link them.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of hypotheses for the origin of the atmosphere and of the factors that control weather and climate.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of the role that the oceans play in climate and global cycling of elements, the physical characteristics of oceans and processes that affect the coastal zone.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of the structure of Earth's interior and the processes that operate within and on the Earth's surface, including a working knowledge of plate tectonics and natural hazards.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to describe and identify geologic materials and interpret the processes by which these materials form.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of the fundamental principles of astronomy, including stellar evolution and current models for the origin of the Solar System.
  • Recognize and interpret the origin and evolution of erosional or constructional landscapes (e.g., fluvial, glacial, arid, coastal, volcanic, deformational) within the context of modern tectonics and climatic concepts.
  • 'Do geology' in unscripted situations using their knowledge, relevant field methods, computation, computer applications, and laboratory methods.
  • Identify common rocks and minerals in hand sample and in thin section; understand how physical properties of rocks and minerals relate to chemistry and crystal structure; describe the layers of the Earth and understand the evidence used to deduce this structure; characterize the major physiographic features of the Earth (e.g. oceanic basins, ridges and trenches, and mountain belts).
  • Understand the theory of plate tectonics; explain rock structures at all scales; describe the rock and hydrologic cycles; relate igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary phenomena to plate tectonic processes.
  • Graduates will be able to describe the fundamental concepts of geoscience including the origin, composition, and evolution of the Earth, how the Earth system responds to internal and external forces, including the forces of humans, and principles linking the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.
  • Be able to explain meteorological phenomena at various scales in terms of basic physical and dynamic processes, including radiative forcing, thermodynamics, microphysics, and dynamics.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the physical structure and morphology of the earth and operation of earth systems through the plate tectonic paradigm.
  • Identify and classify earth materials, and demonstrate an understanding of their chemical make up.
  • Students will be able to describe i) the fundamental earth science-based environmental systems, the processes underpinning those systems, the links between them, and the main environmental outcomes, and ii) the fundamental links between environmental science and the public policy arena, and the processes that link public policies and environmental science.
  • be able to identify common minerals and rocks, describe rock characteristics, and interpret the environments/conditions (igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic) in which rocks formed.
  • be able to identify major physical and biological events in Earth history and describe the methods used to interpret this history, including radiometric dating, fossil succession, and stratigraphic correlation.
  • be able to identify landforms from maps and imagery, construct topographic profiles, and interpret the development of landforms in terms of common surface processes.
  • be able to identify the different types of lithospheric plate boundaries based on types of activity, estimate rates of plate motion, describe the driving mechanisms for plate tectonics, and interpret geologic structures and construct cross sections from geologic map data.
  • be able to describe key geological cycles – including the hydrologic cycle, rock cycle, and carbon cycle.



Technology Skills


Job Specific Skills



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