Workshop Overview

Assessing Geoscience Programs: Theory and Practice

Note: this workshop has already taken place. For more information, you can go to the workshop program page, with links to presentations and additional resources.

Assessing the impact of departmental programs on student learning and other departmental goals can be challenging. However, research on program evaluation offers some insight into this process. This workshop will explore methods and instruments that geoscience departments can use to assess the impact of their programs on students and to measure the degree to which programs meet stated goals. We will also provide opportunities to learn more about evaluation theory and practice from experts in the field. The workshop will combine presentations by participants, small and whole group discussion, and working time.

Workshop Outcomes

In addition to promoting communication and exchange of information across participating insitutions, the workshop will produce these specific outcomes:
  • Recommendations of strategies that improve the quality and efficiency of program assessment.
  • A collection of examples of departmental student learning outcomes and assessment instruments currently being used to assess these outcomes (e.g., alumni surveys, senior surveys, student exit interviews, rubrics).
  • A plan for follow on activities that will disseminate workshop results and lead to sustained discussion of workshop topics.
  • Catalyze a core of evaluation expertise that can support geoscience departments more broadly as they move forward with assessment.


The workshop will begin on Sunday afternoon, February 22, at 5:00 and will end after dinner on Tuesday, February 24. Participants are required to attend all sessions.


Participants are expected to:

  • Share assessment instruments and other resources via the Building Strong Departments website.
  • Write a two-page essay, based on their experience, discussing what makes a program assessment effective.
  • Participate fully in the entire workshop.


The operational costs of the workshop as well as double-occupancy rooms and some meals will be covered by a grant from the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE-0817353). (We will be able to offer a few single rooms for a supplemental fee.) Participants or their home institutions must provide transportation to and from the workshop.

Application and Selection Criteria

The workshop is limited to 30 participants. The final list of participants will be established with the goal of assembling a group with broad expertise in program assessment. Applicants will be notified of their selection in January.


The workshop will be held at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Participants will be housed in a hotel and will eat meals on campus and in the town.