Geology M.S. Assessment Plan

Mission Statement

The Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering is committed to being nationally and internationally recognized at the forefront in geo-science and geo-engineering education and research and providing the state and national workforce with outstanding graduates having superior knowledge, skills and abilities for effective management of the Earth's non-renewable and environmental resources. As part of this mission, we offer a Masters degree that serves either as the terminal degree in preparing professionals for the work force as geologists in both the public and private sectors, or prepares them to continue in a PhD in preparation for a research career. This curriculum places emphasis on developing the skills to conduct scientific research, and to expand technical, analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Graduates will be well prepared to start their careers as geologists in the minerals, petroleum, environmental, or geotechnical industries, or in government organizations.

Program Outcomes

1. Students will exhibit timely progress in developing their program of study in MS program during the first year.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Each student, in cooperation with their graduate advisor will:
    • Select a thesis topic
    • enroll in coursework providing background and skills to conduct this research
    • Write a thesis proposal describing the research they planned to do and the timetable they plan to follow
    • Select their committee and hold a meeting to engage committee input and approval
Assessment Method
  • Annual progress report, due each April 15, will be reviewed to determine what coursework has been completed, whether the student has formed a committee and written their thesis proposal. Report also includes an assessment by the advisor as to the student's progress that year.
  • Copy of proposal will be filed with the graduate director

2. Students are expected to demonstrate a basic level of competency in the general field of geology and in the subject area of their research.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students will write and defend theses.
  • Students' employment in the field of geology
Assessment Method
  • Each thesis will be reviewed and approved by the thesis committee.
  • Department will review Alumni Survey and other data/statistics for employment rates among graduates.

3. Graduates are expected to achieve an understanding of geological sciences as well as the problem solving necessary to be prepared for employment or pursue graduate school.

Student Performance Indicators

  • Students report employment in geology or a related field that requires technical expertise acquired during the MS degree.
  • Acceptance of graduates into Ph.D. programs.

Assessment Method

  • Employment and graduate school acceptance statistics will be gathered by the department.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students will be able to demonstrate competence in oral and written communication skills including the ability to write and present independent research, write research proposals, and the ability to read and critically evaluate relevant geological literature.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students orally present their thesis proposal to their committee at a meeting early in their phase of research.
  • Students submit a written thesis proposal
  • Students give a public presentation of their results and their significance as part of their final thesis defense.
  • Students submit research grants to professional organizations to aid in funding their research and travel to meetings.
  • Students present results at professional meeting,
  • Students submit a master's thesis.
Assessment Method
  • Thesis committee will assess student's proposal presentation and provide feedback to student.
  • Thesis committee will evaluate and provide feedback to student following their proposal presentation.
  • Thesis committee will read and evaluate each thesis draft and give their approval/disapproval.
  • Graduate director will keep statistics on the number of grant proposals submitted by MS students each year, as reported by students in their annual progress reports.
  • Graduate director will keep statistics on the numbers of talks and posters given by MS students at professional meetings, as reported by students in their annual progress reports.
  • Thesis advisor will read and edit drafts of thesis chapters.

2. Students will be able to complete research in their field of study, including the testing of an hypothesis or answering a specific scientific question or questions formulated in conjunction with the advisor and committee.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students complete thesis.
  • Acceptance of manuscripts for publication in competitive peer-reviewed journals.
  • Completion of degree in a timely manner.
Assessment Method
  • Faculty approve/disapprove thesis.
  • Statistics will be gathered by the department as to the number of publications that include students as authors or co-authors.
  • Program director will track time to degree for students in the program.

3. Students will be able to demonstrate appropriate quantitative skills for their sub-discipline.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students will use standard statistical and data reduction software packages to analyze data trends for theses.
  • Students read and plot data in both linear and log formats.
Assessment Method
  • Thesis committees will assess quantitative methods used during thesis defense.
  • Thesis advisors will assess individual student's level of quantitative skill through meetings and advisement.