Identifying Important Career Indicators of Undergraduate Geoscience Students Upon Completion of Their Degree

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The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) decided to create the National Geoscience Student Exit Survey in order to identify the initial pathways into the workforce for these graduating students, as well as assess their preparedness for entering the workforce upon graduation. The creation of this survey stemmed from a combination of experiences with the AGI/AGU Survey of Doctorates and discussions at the following Science Education Research Center (SERC) workshops: “Developing Pathways to Strong Programs for the Future”, “Strengthening Your Geoscience Program”, and “Assessing Geoscience Programs”. These events identified distinct gaps in understanding the experiences and perspectives of geoscience students during one of their most profound professional transitions. Therefore, the idea for the survey arose as a way to evaluate how the discipline is preparing and educating students, as well as identifying the students’ desired career paths. The discussions at the workshops solidified the need for this survey and created the initial framework for the first pilot of the survey. The purpose of this assessment tool is to evaluate student preparedness for entering the geosciences workforce; identify student decision points for entering geosciences fields and remaining in the geosciences workforce; identify geosciences fields that students pursue in undergraduate and graduate school; collect information on students’ expected career trajectories and geosciences professions; identify geosciences career sectors that are hiring new graduates; collect information about salary projections; overall effectiveness of geosciences departments regionally and nationally; demonstrate the value of geosciences degrees to future students, the institutions, and employers; and establish a benchmark to perform longitudinal studies of geosciences graduates to understand their career pathways and impacts of their educational experiences on these decisions. AGI’s Student Exit Survey went through a second pilot testing with Spring 2012 graduates from 45 departments across the United States. These graduating students from undergraduate and graduate programs answered questions about their earth science education experiences at the high school, community college, and university levels; their quantitative skills; their research and internship experiences and their immediate plans after graduation. Out of the 294 complete responses to the survey, 233 were from undergraduate students. This presentation will focus on the responses of these undergraduate students. AGI hopes to fully deploy this survey broadly to geosciences departments across the country in Spring 2013. AGI will also begin longitudinally participants from the previous Exit Survey efforts in order to understand their progression through their chosen career paths.

  • Carolyn Wilson*
  • Christopher Keane*
  • Heather Houlton*
  • American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2012