Initial Publication Date: April 13, 2015

Rubric for Evaluating Senior Research

From the Department of Geology at Bates College


The senior thesis experience at Bates is a two-semester research project required by all geology majors. Seniors collect, analyze and interpret data throughout their senior year and have weekly one-on-one meetings with their faculty advisor to review/discuss specific techniques, datasets, publications, thesis chapters, etc. Additionally, all seniors attend a weekly group meeting, where they take turns making formal presentations on their project and receiving feedback/handling questions from other seniors and all of the geology faculty. Students complete a senior thesis and, in the case of an Honors thesis, defend the thesis to a committee of four faculty, one of whom is an examiner from outside of Bates College. The senior thesis is designed to facilitate independent and critical thinking, and to teach students how to lead themselves to new knowledge, to execute independent research, and to communicate their work (both orally and in written form).


Paper copies of the grading rubric and list of student/professor responsibilities are given to the seniors and faculty at the first group meeting at the beginning of each semester.

Use of the Data

The data gathered using this rubric are used to provide feedback to the students on their progress and to assign grades.


The geology faculty meet as a group to discuss and assign grades to each student. Mid-semester grades are given to the students so that areas of weakness can be identified and improved upon prior to the end-of-semester evaluation. Overall, we find that the rubric is quite effective at allowing us to assess what is important for the senior thesis experience.


Download the Student/Faculty Handout for Senior Thesis (Microsoft Word 37kB Feb12 09)