Summary of Graduate and Undergraduate Assessment Plans for the Department of Geology at BGSU

Sheila Roberts, Department of Geology, Bowling Green State University

The Department of Geology at Bowling Green State University offers a MS in geology and a BS and BA in geology. There is also a specialization in paleobiology for the BS students. Several years ago, we identified learning outcomes for both the graduate and undergraduate programs. Sometime later, we devised the methods to assess these learning outcomes. You can see our learning outcomes and assessment methods under Assessment Instruments.

For the undergraduate program, we identified 4 learning outcomes:

  • Identify, describe, and classify earth materials, formations, and structures and interpret them in the context of geologic processes
  • Analyze and report quantitative geologic data collected in the field and laboratory
  • Read, write, present, and critically evaluate geologic reports, professional papers and maps
  • Synthesize information from a variety of disciplines to solve geologic problems

We also identified the courses that would be used to assess each learning outcome. For example, the second outcome is assessed using selected exercises from homework assignments in our quantitative methods, structure and tectonics and summer field courses. It has, however, been difficult to quantify the learning outcomes and use the results of assessment to improve our undergraduate program for a few reasons.

First, because of a low number of majors, we are only able to offer our required courses every other year. Therefore, some students will take quantitative methods before structure and tectonics and others will take structure and tectonics before taking quantitative methods. Therefore, we cannot compare the assessment of the quantitative methods course (which, in an ideal world, would be taken by students first) with the assessment of the structure and tectonics course to see if the students are making progress toward the learning outcomes.

Secondly, each faculty member assesses the learning outcomes using a different scale, making comparison difficult. To overcome this difficulty, we developed rubrics to use in assessing the learning outcomes. For example, for the second learning outcome, students should be able to:

  • Interpret graphs and charts of quantitative data;
  • Interpret basic statistics;
  • Select data collection and analysis techniques appropriate for a problem;
  • Integrate quantitative data from multiple sources and/or sub-disciplines in geology.
We have not yet implemented the rubrics.