Geophysics 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 geophysicists 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 geophysicists 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 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 plan to do and timetable they plan to follow; and
    - 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. A copy of the proposal will be filed with the graduate director.

2. Graduates will be prepared for employment as professionals, or to continue for a Ph.D.

Student Performance Indicators

  • Students report employment in geophysics 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.
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Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students will be able to demonstrate a basic level of competency in the general field of geophysics and in the subject area of their research.

Student Performance Indicators
  • If students have not completed the equivalent of GPH 655 and GPH 692 in their undergraduate preparation they will be required to enroll in these classes.
  • Students will write and defend their thesis
  • Students' employment in the field of geophysics
Assessment Method
  • Assessment of the student's competency in general geophysics areas will be reflected in the grades received in GPH 655 and GPH 692 or their equivalent at the undergraduate institution.
  • 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

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

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students submit a written thesis proposal and orally present their proposal to their committee at a meeting early in their phase of research
  • Students give a public presentation of their results and their significance as part of their final thesis defense
  • Students present results at professional meetings.
  • Students submit a master's thesis as chapter drafts and final drafts
Assessment Method
  • Thesis committee will assess student's proposal presentation and written proposal and provide feedback to student
  • Thesis committees will assess communication and research competency during thesis defense
  • 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 committee will read and evaluate each thesis draft and give their approval/disapproval and Thesis advisor will edit drafts of thesis chapters

3. Students will be able to demonstrate the ability 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 conference papers and manuscripts for publication in 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

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

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students will utilize appropriate data and error analysis methodologies in their research
  • Students will master professional and/or research geophysical processing and analysis software appropriate to their specialty
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