Example Learning Outcomes and Competencies

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Competency Models

These examples are excerpts from the program descriptions submitted by workshop participants at the 2013 Geoscience and the 21st Century Workforce workshop. Examples were selected to illustrate the range of approaches and topics used across many institutions and types of programs.

Quantitative and Data-related Skills

  • Graduates will collect, analyze, and interpret quantitative and qualitative data and draw inferences from them.
  • Understand and apply appropriate mathematical, statistical, and computer programming techniques and methods necessary to solve problems in the atmospheric sciences.

Scientific Research Skills and Understanding of Scientific Process

  • Conducting Scientific Research: Engage in cutting-edge research with faculty through the University's Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experiences, funded research grants, and independent studies.
  • Students will utilize scientific methods to design and execute research projects that include collection, analysis and interpretation of data.
  • Students can critically evaluate geologic information from peer-review literature or secondary sources.

Mapping, Field and Observation Skills

  • Read topographic and geological maps and air-photos.
  • Make and analyze geological and geophysical measurements and interpret geological features in the field.

Understanding of Temporal Scale

  • Will acquire a conceptual understanding of geologic time, and related temporal concepts such as evolution (of life and Earth); duration, frequency, magnitude, recurrence interval of geologic events; geologic time scale and significant tectonic, evolutionary events; temporal reasoning.
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of how life has evolved through geologic time.

Spatial Skills

  • Will acquire spatial reasoning skills; GIS is at the core of our undergraduate curriculum to enable students to represent spatial data; landscapes, structural geology, geophysics, all emphasize spatial relations on or in the Earth.
  • Comprehend concepts of spatial analysis

Communication Skills

  • Graduates will express geographic concepts in writing and speaking to discipline-specific and general audiences.
  • Oral, Written, and Multi-Media Communication: Use and apply communication skills to address diverse audiences through multi-media presentations of research, current weather events, and forecasts; visual displays of atmospheric data; written scientific reports; and educational demonstrations to lay audiences.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to communicate scientific and technical information effectively through appropriate oral, visual and written presentation.

Soft Skills

  • Work effectively in a professional environment, including oral and written communication, personal organization, use of computer hardware and software, and applying appropriate ethical standards.
  • Demonstrate competence in leadership and teamwork.
  • Be professional.
  • Explore their current interests and discover new interests.


  • Upon completion of the course of instruction, the student will be able to operate in multidisciplinary teams.
  • Students are able to work as a team (supporting or leading) to address and solve scientific problems.

Interdisciplinary Problem Solving

  • Graduates will use geographic information science to interpret, represent, and solve geographic problems.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the connection between humans and the Earth, including causes of environmental issues, characteristics of geologic hazards, and the nature and exploitation of geologic resources.

Geoscientific Skills and Knowledge

  • Perform essential geological field and laboratory skills, including rock and mineral identification, preparation of mineral or paleontological samples, interpretation of topographic maps and aerial imagery, constructing stratigraphic sections and using geologic tools and equipment.
  • Upon completion of the course of instruction, the student will be able to explain the important processes that shape the earth.

Technology Skills

  • Be proficient in the use of appropriate technologies – including basic computer skills (word processing, spread sheets), geospatial skills (GPS, accessing geospatial databases), and information technology (search, compile, and evaluate information from scientific literature and web resources).

Job Specific Skills

  • Prediction and Forecasting Techniques: Synthesize a broad understanding of the basic processes of the atmosphere to generate short and long term predictions of weather and climate.
  • Atmospheric Measurements: Understand the principles of sensor characteristics and sources of error; use relevant radar, satellite, and surface instrumentation; interpret and evaluate data needed to understand basic concepts, conduct research, and make forecasts.