Student Learning Outcomes or Learning Goals

Department of Geology and Environmental Science, Wheaton College

I. General Goals. Graduates of our department with a BS in Geology should be:

  • familiar with terms and tools for the description of geological materials and the gross structure of the earth,
  • familiar with basic knowledge of subsurface and surface geologic processes that form rocks and shape the landscape
  • able to understand human actions that promote environmental stability or lead to environmental degradation (i.e., earth systems role in pollution, climate change and natural hazards),
  • able to apply geological knowledge in order to meet human needs and improve environmental conditions (i.e., water, mineral and energy resource discovery and management, natural hazard assessment and mitigation, sustainable development),
  • prepared for graduate studies in earth or environmental sciences or entry level employment in related fields including resource development, environmental management and missions/development,
  • prepared to join the community of earth and environmental scientists, practicing with professional and personal integrity,
  • grounded in good scientific and theological training so as to be able to contribute to constructive dialog on faith and science issues in Church and secular communities.

II. Skills:

  1. Analytical- Geology majors should be competent in methods for the collection and processing of scientific (geologic) data.
  2. Communications- Geology majors should be able to effectively communicate the technical details and significance of geological studies. Competency should be demonstrated for 1) oral as well as 2) written communication.
  3. Integration-Synthesis- Geology majors should be able to integrate various forms of knowledge and synthesize these in the solution of problems. In the more scientific sense, 1) technical modeling and mapping skills are essential attributes. In the more value-oriented sense, majors need to 2) devise theological/ethical evaluations.

III. Comprehensions (including terminology and working concepts):

  1. Geological Materials- Geology majors should have a basic understanding of the origin and utility of minerals, rocks, soil and other non-biological earth materials/resources.
  2. Geological Time- Geology majors should be familiar with the concept of geologic time, its subdivisions, measurement, and the overall progression of events in earth history.
  3. Earth Processes- Geology majors should be familiar with the important processes, both 1) physical/mechanical and 2) chemical, that constitute Earth's main lithospheric and hydrologic systems.
  4. Operational Paradigm- Geology majors should be familiar with the basic concept, historical development, and implications of plate tectonics in all subdisciplines of geology.
  5. Regional Geology- Geology majors should understand the fundamental reconstruction of historical geology for the USA, with particular detail for the midcontinent and Black Hills of South Dakota (by virtue of the summer field course there).