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Majors in Geology, Water Resources, Meteorology and Earth Science at SUNY Oneonta

Information for this profile was provided by James Ebert, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, SUNY Oneonta. Information is also available on the program website. Students in these programs are pursuing bachelors degrees.

Program Design & Assessment

Overview

Our department offers four majors: Geology, Water Resources, Earth Science and Meteorology. Our Geology curriculum is rather traditional and rigorous. The major in Water Resources (hydrogeology) offers many courses that are offered at the graduate level in other programs. The major in Earth Science is targeted at preparing middle and high school teachers. The Meteorology curriculum makes extensive use of technology and is intended to prepare majors for graduate study.

Strengths of this program

Field-based instruction are particular strengths of the majors in Geology and Water Resources. Many courses are structured around field projects.

Courses in the major in Earth Science were chosen to prepare graduates in all areas of the geosciences that comprise the New York State Regents Curriculum in the Physical Setting Earth Science. Designing the content of the major around the required subject matter of the Regents Curriculum has been a significant advantage for our graduates.

The Meteorology major infuses computer technology throughout, from the introductory course through senior research experiences. Particular emphasis is placed on data visualization. This has greatly enhanced students' depth of understanding of atmospheric phenomena.

Types of students served

Students seeking careers in environmental consulting are well served by our curricula in Water Resources and Geology.
Majors in Geology also find themselves well prepared for other careers in the geosciences.
The Earth Science major largely serves those intending to become Earth Science teachers. Our program is regionally recognized for preparation of well-qualified teachers.
The major in Meteorology prepares students for graduate study and for entry level positions with governmental and private forecasting offices.

Program Goals

The goals of this program are as follows:

Student Learning Outcomes for the Geology Major
  1. Students will demonstrate their ability to describe and identify geologic materials.
  2. Students will demonstrate their understanding of how rocks, sediments, and soils form.
  3. Students will demonstrate comprehension of the role of deep time in Earth history.
  4. Students will demonstrate their understanding of how life has evolved through geologic time.
  5. Students will demonstrate understanding of processes that occur on and within the Earth and interactions among Earth's systems.
  6. Students will demonstrate their ability to collect and analyze geologic information in field and laboratory settings.
  7. Students will demonstrate their understanding of how geologic processes and materials intertwine with societal needs.
  8. Students will demonstrate their ability to apply scientific reasoning, technology and collaborative skills to solve geologic problems.
  9. Students will utilize scientific methods to design and execute research projects that include collection, analysis and interpretation of data.
  10. Students will demonstrate their ability to communicate scientific and technical information effectively through appropriate oral, visual and written presentation.
Student Learning Outcomes for the Water Resources Major
  1. Students will demonstrate their ability to solve theoretical and applied problems in surface water hydrology, groundwater hydrology, aqueous geochemistry, watershed management, and groundwater modeling.
  2. 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.
  3. Students will demonstrate their engagement with local, regional, national, and international issues regarding water resources.
  4. Students will demonstrate their ability to utilize scientific methods to design and execute field-based research projects that include the collection, analysis and interpretation of data.
  5. Students will demonstrate their ability to communicate scientific and technical information effectively through oral, visual and written presentation formats.
Student Learning Outcomes for the Earth Science Major
  1. 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.
  2. Students will demonstrate understanding of hypotheses for the origin of the atmosphere and of the factors that control weather and climate.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Students will demonstrate their ability to describe and identify geologic materials and interpret the processes by which these materials form.
  6. Students will demonstrate understanding of the fundamental principles of astronomy, including stellar evolution and current models for the origin of the Solar System.
  7. Students will utilize scientific methods to design and execute research projects or solve problems that include collection, analysis and interpretation of data.
  8. Students will demonstrate their ability to communicate scientific and technical information effectively
Student Learning Outcomes for the Meteorology Major
  1. Students will be able to describe and apply the fundamental principles governing the behavior of gases in the atmosphere, interactions of air masses and fronts, and the basics of humidity and precipitation. Students will demonstrate understanding of pressing atmospheric environmental problems.
  2. Students will identify and apply climatological principles to the study of the present, past, and possible future climates.
  3. Students will be able to explain the micro- and macrophysical interactions occurring during cloud and precipitation formation as well as thermodynamic properties of the atmosphere. They will be able to interpret thermodynamic diagrams and their implications for atmospheric diagnosis and prediction.
  4. Students will demonstrate understanding of the synoptic and dynamic properties of the atmosphere at multiple scales and be able to apply that knowledge to forecasts of the probable future states on daily and weekly time scales.
  5. Students will demonstrate proficiency in using computer analysis techniques to manipulate, display, analyze, and draw conclusions from atmospheric data.
  6. Students will demonstrate their ability to understand and think critically about readings from the scientific literature.
  7. Students will utilize scientific methods to design and execute research projects that include collection, analysis and interpretation of data.
  8. Students will demonstrate their ability to communicate scientific and technical information effectively through appropriate oral, visual and written presentation.

The learning goals were informed by the following resources:

Learning outcomes for the majors offered by SUNY Oneonta's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences were informed by the content of the ASBOG Fundamentals Exam (for Geology and Water Resources), guidelines of the American Meteorological Society (for Meteorology) and the New York State Regents Curriculum in the Physical Setting: Earth Science (for Earth Science). In addition, we consulted learning outcomes from similar departments and sought input from alumni (especially those in supervisory positions). Lastly, some of the more general skills-related outcomes are expected college-wide.

How program goals are assessed

Most of our assessments are course-embedded and many are linked to projects. We also survey our recent graduates and pay particular attention to external assessments such as the performance of our graduates on the ASBOG Fundamentals exam and the New York State Content Specialty Test, one of the examinations required by the state to certify teacher candidates.

Design features that allow goals to be met

We believe that our department-wide emphasis on project-based and experiential learning helps our students meet the learning outcomes that we have established.

Alumni Careers

Graduation rate

On average, we graduate 30 to 40 students per year. These graduates are distributed across our four curricula. Earth Science has been the largest cohort historically, but Geology has seen increases in the past several years.

Careers pursued by our alumni

Students seeking careers in environmental consulting are well served by our curricula in Water Resources and Geology.
Majors in Geology also find themselves well prepared for other careers in the geosciences.

The Earth Science major largely serves those intending to become Earth Science teachers. Our program is regionally recognized for preparation of well-qualified teachers.

The major in Meteorology prepares students for graduate study and for entry level positions with governmental and private forecasting offices.

Courses and Sequencing

Diagram of course sequencing and requirements

See below.

Other key features of this program:

As a multidisciplinary Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, we provide four distinct majors for our students: Geology, Water Resources (hydrogeology), Meteorology and Earth Science. Each of these majors prepares students for distinct career paths. Descriptions of the programs and diagrams may be found at the following URLs on the SERC site:

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