Initial Publication Date: April 13, 2015

Student Learning Outcomes or Learning Goals

Geology Department, Carleton College

List of goals, skills and experiences for the Carleton geology major:

(The following categories and bullet points emerged from a department retreat in March 2007. They are informal and the list is certainly not exhaustive, but they do represent a department consensus).

Students should be able to:
1. Think like a Scientist

  • Enjoy learning science
  • Have the flexibility/openness to learn from all faculty and students
  • Learn how to learn about the Earth
  • Think like a Geologist
  • Generate new knowledge
2. Communicate effectively in a variety of ways, such as
  • Essay writing
  • Writing scientific papers
  • Writing in other genres
  • Visual representation of data and ideas (e.g. express an idea in a graph; represent something by drawing it in Freehand or Illustrator)
  • Poster presentation
  • Oral communication
3. Locate and evaluate information
  • Read and critically evaluate relevant geological literature
4. Measure, collect and interpret data
  • Data Analysis
    • Geological data
    • Numerical data handling
    • Using EXCEL
  • Interpret Phase Diagrams
  • Maps and Interpretation
    • Make a geologic map/strat section
    • Creating and interpreting maps
    • Map reading and interpretation
  • Quantitative and problem solving skills
  • Measure something (data collection)
  • Laboratory work
    • Make thin-sections
    • Collecting the right amount and type of sample for analysis
    • Correct preparation of samples for different types of analysis
5. Reason and visualize three-dimensionally, e.g. with stereonets
6. Tackle complex problems
7. Learn the limits of knowledge
8. Work with others in groups, e.g. -

  • Solving hard problems (by collaborating together)
    • Figuring out a difficult rock problem
    • Experiencing frustration and epiphany
    • Team experience
9. Have an array of field experiences
  • Field Observations
    • Making observations at outcrops
    • Field observations
    • Understanding the difference between observations and interpretations
    • Take field notes they have to use
  • Field Trips
    • Geological sites near Northfield
    • Visit classic midwest geologic localities
    • Opportunities for other trips and field research
10. Do research and carry out projects on a variety of scales
  • Start and finish (and start-to-finish) projects (very well)
  • Develop a hypothesis
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Do a major research/thesis/presentation
  • Design and execute a major custom project
  • Write best geology senior project (comps)