Emphasizing job skills in geoscience curricula
Monday 1:30pm Tate 101
Oral Session Part of Monday A: Geoscience Education Research
James Kubicki, University of Texas at El Paso
AGI surveys have clearly shown the disconnect between the time spent emphasizing skills in the undergraduate curriculum and the amount those skills are needed in careers. The differences are largest in the non-technical skills such as communication, project management and entrepreneurship. Other technical skills such as computer programming are also lacking. To address this problem, the Department of Earth, Environmental & Resource Sciences at UTEP have been revising our curriculum from Introduction to Physical Geology to our capstone Field Camp courses. The first step is to make students aware of the skill desired by employers. One method is to provide resume templates to all majors so they see directly what skills they should acquire in their path to graduation. As they acquire these skills, they can change items from "greyed out" to normal text. This has the added benefit that they are sure to emphasize these strengths during any networking and interviewing they do. We have brought in alumni who have been successful in industry to speak to students and mentor them on career skills. Providing insights into the twists and turns careers are likely to take allows students to see the need to gain skills that make them adaptable to change rather than focusing on a narrow range of content. Team-building group projects become the norm in geoscience courses and each course is sure to emphasize skills that have been encountered previously and will again in future courses. An integrated curriculum helps students see the big picture. Combined with internships, students gain the confidence to take ownership of their educations rather than being passive participants.