Tools and Strategies for Finding Programmatic Strengths and Weaknesses

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 8:30am-11:30am


Karen Viskupic, Boise State University
Anne Egger, Central Washington University

Are you looking for ways to improve your undergraduate geoscience program? Maybe you're concerned about whether or not students are graduating with the skills they need; maybe your curriculum has been stagnant for years and you're not sure where to focus change efforts; maybe your department is looking for a systematic way to make decisions about program improvements; or maybe your institution is asking for program assessment data. If so, please join us to explore tools and strategies that you can use to identify where your program is succeeding and where it needs your attention.


At many institutions of higher education, program assessment and review is required, and can be seen as a chore or busywork. But the data that goes into a program assessment can give you insight into your students, highlight your strengths and successes, and help focus your efforts to improve. In this workshop, we will approach the idea of program assessment starting with skills and concepts that are important to the geosciences, and consider the ways you can make use of community resources in program assessments that both help strengthen your program and meet the requirements of your institution.

Participants should bring their program outcomes, if they exist, or ideas about outcomes for your program.


This workshop is designed for any department chair, program director, assessment coordinator, or instructor who is interested in collecting and using data to guide decisions about program improvements. We will focus on exploring potential data sources and matching them to individual program needs for future use.


By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Determine which goals are most important for your program to evaluate
  • Determine which tools are useful and appropriate for evaluating your program including:
    • Descriptions of desired workforce skills
    • Analyses from the National Geoscience Faculty Survey
    • Analyses of licensure exams
    • Disciplinary assessments
    • Student portfolios and reflections
    • Alumni and community feedback
  • Articulate a plan for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your program


Each day will consist of a combination of presentations, discussion, small-group and individual work. We will introduce different data tools and resources and participants will work in small groups to adapt these tools and resources to their own needs. We will also gather ideas for new tools that can be developed to meet community needs. Participants will leave the workshop with an action plan for understanding their own programs.