Aligning curriculum with workforce competencies: An investigation of geology and geography master's degree programs

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Little is known about geology and geography terminal Master's degree programs' curricula, students' career paths and faculty mentoring and advising practices. With the recent reports indicating a great need for more trained geoscientists in the workforce, understanding these aspects about departments is important because they will inform our community about best practices on aligning programs with workforce demand. The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) in collaboration with the Association of American Geographers (AAG) are conducting a research study on 20 geography, 20 geology and 10 hybrid terminal Master's degree programs to investigate how geoscience departments are preparing their students for the workforce. Additionally, the study will inquire about workforce competencies and relevance of skills that current professional geoscientists utilize in their careers. Online resources will be designed for departments to develop additional approaches that will assess and improve learning outcomes to align with workforce demands. Likert-style surveys were developed to administer to students, faculty and alumni of geography and geology departments. Questions about financial support, decision points, influences and satisfaction with degree program are addressed. Student, faculty and alumni surveys also include questions about what specific competencies in geology and geography are learned, taught and used. These questions were adopted from ASBOG's Task Analysis Survey (TAS) and the Geography and Career Planning Survey for students and faculty from AAG's EDGE program. Overview of the project, its goals, methodology and preliminary results will be discussed.

  • Heather Houlton*
  • Christopher Keane*
  • Carolyn Wilson*
  • Geological Society of America Annual Meeting 2013