Assessing Geoscience Career Awareness Among Undergraduates

Friday 3:00pm-4:00pm TSU - Humphries: 118
Poster Session Part of Friday


Claire Harrigan, Whitman College
Karen Viskupic, Boise State University
One measure of the success of an undergraduate geoscience program is how well its students are prepared for careers in the geosciences. As departments work to prepare undergraduates for the workforce, a method for evaluating students' understanding of, and preparedness for, geoscience careers could help guide department activities and interventions.

We developed an instrument (online survey) that evaluates students' career plans and utilization of resources related to learning about, preparing for, and finding a job. Questions ask students to identify careers of interest, reflect on the skills they need to be successful in their future career, and describe what they need to do to acquire those skills. With only minor modifications, this instrument can be used in any department to evaluate students' perceptions about potential career options. When deployed over multiple semesters and at different stages of program completion, the instrument can be used to evaluate the efficacy of career preparation interventions.

We surveyed 100 undergraduate geoscience majors at a public 4-year university. The results represent the state of students' career awareness prior to any career planning interventions. We compare the results for students at different stages in the program and demonstrate that students who have taken more geoscience courses have more specific career goals than students at in the beginning stages of completing the requirements for the major. We also show that first generation students are more likely to utilize institution-related resources like a career center than non-first generation students who are more likely to use their friends and family as a career resource.