geography b.a. and b.s. assessment plan

Mission Statement

The Department of Geography is the only program in Nevada that grants baccalaureate and graduate degrees in Geography and Land Use Planning. The curriculum contributes to the higher education to all interested Nevadans with a full array of geographic offerings. Recognizing the varied needs and nature of Nevada students, the Department supports the University Core Curriculum, the degree at night program, non-degree enrollees, and instructs many non-majors, in addition to students seeking Geography majors and minors. While these students who are seeking "minors" in geography, or taking elective courses for their own majors are not necessarily considered a major force in assessment at the University level, there are a longstanding constituency of the department, and we will serve their interests and attempt to assess their well-being and progress within the assessment frame.

Geography at Nevada emphasizes human-environment interactions. Our curriculum and research specialize in the study of desert and mountain landscapes and people in arid and mountainous environments. The Department emphasizes the integration of human and physical geography and encourages the use of geospatial technologies (GIS, Remote Sensing, and Cartography). Our approach encourages problem solving that utilizes spatial reasoning and the analysis of questions at multiple spatial scales: local, regional and global.

Our department has a strong physical geography component that seeks to understand pattern and process within nature. We have strengths in cultural and historical geography that seek to understand pattern and process within societies. Where studies of nature and society meet, we study the effects of human ideas, systems and activities on the environment. And looking at human-environment interactions from a different perspective, our work also encompasses how the environment establishes contexts and constraints for human ideas, systems and activities. Both BA and BS degrees in Geography may be obtained.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Develop professional skills that will promote career development (writing; verbal presentation; visual communication; library and archival research; field work; computing; quantitative analysis; qualitative analysis; accountability, efficiency, precision and accuracy).

Student Performance Indicators
  • 1a. Capable of writing a complete, well constructed essay or paper using correct vocabulary, grammar, spelling and punctuation.
    1b. Capable of making oral presentations to a group in a clear, understandable, professional manner.
    1c. Capable of analyzing and preparing graphics, posters and presentations that communicate ideas visually, through design, layout, color, symbols and graphic representation.
    1d. Capable of using appropriate search methods to find books, journal articles, maps, photographs, digital data and other research materials.
    1e. Capable of answering research questions through the collection and analysis of data collected in the field.
    1f. Capable of using computers for basic file management, printing, email, web search and use of basic software programs, including word processing, spreadsheets, and simple programming.
    1g. Capable of solving problems requiring statistical analysis, manipulation of numerical data and simple mathematical models.
    1h. Capable of interpreting information in the form of observations, text and dialogue.
    1i. Capable of punctuality, meeting deadlines, working efficiently alone and in groups, selecting appropriate methods for work and achieving accuracy in results.
Assessment Method
  • Each of these performance indicators will be assessed through:
    a)administering a student self assessment of skill development for each geography course taken;
    b)administering a faculty assessment of skill development for each geography course taught;
    c) qualitative student evaluation of skill development throughout the curriculum as administered in a required major capstone course (GEOG 418);
    d) alumni survey evaluation of skills developed in the geography curriculum and the usefulness of these skills in their job and for career advancement.

2. Attain proficiency in a range of analytical skills (memorizing, analyzing, synthesizing, judgment, applications).

Student Performance Indicators
  • 2a. Proficient at memorizing facts, ideas or methods so they can be repeated in pretty much in the same form.
    2b. Proficient at analyzing the basic elements of an idea, experience or theory, such as a particular case or situation in depth and consider its components.
    2c. Proficient at synthesizing and organizing ideas, information or experiences into new, more complex interpretations and relationships.
    2d. Proficient at making judgments about the value of information, arguments or methods, such as examining how others have gathered and interpreted data and assessing the soundness of their conclusions.
    2e. Proficient at applying theories or concepts to practical problems or in new situations; these include ability with interactive graphics and demonstrated graphic literacy.
Assessment Method
  • Each of these performance indicators will be assessed through:
    a) administering a student self assessment of skill development for each geography course taken;
    b) administering a faculty assessment of skill development for each geography course taught;
    c) qualitative student evaluation of skill development throughout their curriculum as administered in a required major capstone course (GEOG 418);
    d) alumni survey evaluation of skills developed in the geography curriculum and the usefulness of these skills in their job and for career advancement.

3. Increase understanding of substantive disciplinary knowledge (spatial analysis, perception and geography; regional understandings; cultural interpretations of place and landscape; physical geographic analysis; human-environment interactions).

Student Performance Indicators
  • 3a. Experienced in interpreting patterns of distribution and recognizing phenomena and processes as they occur in space.
    3b. Experienced in assessing relationships between the experiences and perceptions of individuals/groups and the transformation of places and landscapes.
    3c. Experienced in evaluating the organization of space into regions based upon understandings of physical and social environments.
    3d. Experienced in observing the influence of culture and society in the transformation of places and landscapes.
    3e. Experienced in recognizing environmental processes and their spatial patterns as they are associated with changes in landscapes, climatic change, water regimes and biotic interactions.
    3f. Experienced in examining dynamics between social actions and the interpretation, use, quality and change of physical environments.
Assessment Method
  • Each of these performance indicators will be assessed through:
    a) administering a student self assessment of skill development for each geography course taken;
    b) administering a faculty assessment of skill development for each geography course taught;
    c) qualitative student evaluation of skill development throughout the curriculum as administered in a required major capstone course (GEOG 418).

4. Capitalize on learning experiences through well-designed departmental curriculum, strong academic advising, access to relevant departmental faculty, and opportunities for specialized training and experience.

Student Performance Indicators
  • 4a. Provided with high quality, relevant and challenging curriculum.
    4b. Provided with strong academic advising and to departmental faculty (as needed).
    4c. Provided with opportunities for specialized training and experience (undergraduate research opportunities, internships, outside work experiences).
Assessment Method
  • Each of these performance indicators will be assessed through:
    a) qualitative student evaluation of skill development throughout the curriculum as administered in a required major capstone course (GEOG 418);
    b) alumni survey evaluation of programmatic strengths and weaknesses.

5. Individual Course Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Student Performance Indicators
  • 5a. Goals and indicators tailored to each course.
    5b. These will vary according to instructor and course level.
Assessment Method
  • 5a. Technical, thematic, and regional courses will specify, in the early section of each faculty member's syllabus, specific SLOs for a course. These should dovetail with the overall departmental SLOs, but may demonstrate some significant variation instructor-to-instructor.
    5b. A typical case would be a field methods course, which within geography can be urban, rural, studio-based, organized around the study of a specific phenomenon (water, snow, mountains, arid environments), or grounded in cultural-historical experience and research. Variation is essential.