Initial Publication Date: April 13, 2015

Student Learning Goals

Department of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University

Program (B.S. and B.A.) Goals and Objectives for the Core Geology Courses

In compiling these goals and objectives the following definitions were used:

Goals: what is to be accomplished.

Objectives for each goal: the content knowledge that can be measured to indicate progress toward attaining the goal. The same goal may show up in different classes, e.g., understanding tectonics.

Strategies for each objective: the actual activities in each of the classes that inculcate the goals; different courses may have different strategies to achieve different facets of a common goal, like understanding tectonics.

The goals and objectives are the knowledge and skills we want our graduates in the B.S. and B.A. degrees to possess and apply in their futures in graduate school and the work world. You can also download a file of the specific course goals for each of the courses in the core curriculum. (Acrobat (PDF) 129kB Feb12 09)

GOAL #1: Demonstrate comprehension of geological principles, facts, and concepts (the knowledge in the field).

  • Recognize and describe minerals and rocks, and define the importance of the application of these skills (e.g., in interpreting earth history, understanding how and where economic resource occur, etc.).
  • Identify common invertebrate fossils, interpreting the ancient environment in which the fossil lived, and assess their utility as indicators of geologic time.
  • Construct and interpret geologic maps and geologic cross-sections, evaluating models of geometry of rock units at depth, and graphically presenting surface and subsurface geologic and topographic data.

GOAL #2: Demonstrate skillful application of methodologies of lab and field.

  • Demonstrate standard geoscience laboratory and field techniques, appropriately manipulating equipment and tools.
  • Manipulate data generated through laboratory and field techniques.
  • Analyze and interpret both laboratory and field data
  • Make systematic scientific observations of rock samples, outcrops, and stratigraphic sections, and interpreting these observations using sound scientific principles.
  • Make systematic observations and interpretations of geologic materials at thin-section and micro-scales.

GOAL #3: Demonstrate an understanding that the geosciences are fundamentally interdisciplinary.

  • Apply knowledge and skills in the physical and life sciences, and mathematics to learning experiences in geosciences courses.
  • Strategy: Defining connections of these sciences to observations, interpretations, and concepts within core courses.
  • Model the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere as interactive elements of an evolving Earth system, fractionating over various time spans
  • Communicate with peers and contemporaries in collaborative learning situations in class, lab, and field, and with other scientific professionals.
  • Strategy: Attend and participate in departmental seminars.
  • Strategy: Participate and communicate within the scientific community.
  • Strategy: Attend regional and national scientific meetings.

GOAL #4: Demonstrate acceptance, preference for, and commitment to scientific values.

  • Apply scientific strategies and methodologies in the Earth sciences and use these to think critically about solving problems in the discipline.
  • Demonstrate the ability to utilize the theoretical basis of geology, to critically evaluate and analyze data and conclusions of others, and.
  • Distinguish between scientific and non-scientific approaches to solving problems, and demonstrate a preference for scientific explanations where they are appropriate.
  • Exhibit knowledge of the history and philosophies of the Earth sciences in general, including its debates, major paradigm shifts, and important pivot points in development of strategies, techniques, and/or theories.
  • Demonstrate fluency with the technical details and developments in the field, as well as important contributors to that field, and the position of their research within this context.
  • Strategy: Read, evaluate, and debate scientific ideas contained in the scientific literature in the discipline.
  • Strategy: Search for, find, and retrieve geological literature through the standard data bases in the discipline.
  • Strategy: Generate scientific abstracts, reports and papers in the standard formats for the geosciences.
  • Strategy: Apply computer skills in all areas of scientific communication.

GOAL #5: Compare knowledge of the discipline and future trends as applied to their own continuing education and professional development.

  • Complete an independent research project in collaboration with a member of the Department faculty.
  • Communicate the results of that research to a professional audience.
  • Construct balanced solutions to societal problems relative to the geosciences
  • Demonstrate a capacity for self-evaluation of personal skills and needs
  • Strategy: self-appraisal of personal skills as a scientist
  • Strategy: self-appraisal of personal skills as a geoscientist
  • Strategy: definition of future learning needs and expectations

GOAL #6: Communicate with and advise non-scientific audiences on dynamic Earth processes that affect individuals and communities.

  • Describe the geological conditions and cautions associated with the use, design, and/or implementation of human designed infrastructures and other land use/resource issues.
  • Communicate with authority in public forums on issues related to the Earth, such as global climate change, ozone depletion, and other Earth environment issues.

GOAL #7: Integrate knowledge and skills in the geosciences in the societal, ethical, and moral context in which these knowledge and skills will be employed.

  • Discern essential features of societal issues relative to the geosciences
  • Select ethical and moral approaches to societal issues relative to the geosciences
  • Identify potential sources of bias in sources of information and arguments
  • Construct balanced solutions to societal problems relative to the geosciences