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Geography & Development: Undergraduate Programs

Overview: 

The School of Geography and Development serves the undergraduate student body in a variety of ways. The School offers over 200 majors four different courses of study, including the B.A. in Geography, in which students can independently design a concentration; the B.S. in Geography, which offers concentrations in physical geography, geographic information science (GIS), and water, land, and society;  the B.S. in Urban & Regional Development, which draws entirely on GEOG courses and is a professionally oriented degree with an applied geography focus; and the B.S. in Environmental Studies, an interdisciplinary degree homed in SGD. In addition to the flexibility offered by these diverse majors, SGD also offers minors in Environmental Studies, Geography, Regional Development, and Geographic Information Science. The interdisciplinary nature of the School is reflected in the many cross-listed courses offered by its faculty, resulting in significant enrollment by students in diverse fields such as sociology, political science, area studies, gender studies, Latin American Studies, global studies, and natural resources, among other areas.

Each major is structured with sets of foundational, core theory, methods, and advanced coursework, including the provision of capstone or internship experiences, to ensure that students benefit from a rigorous exposure to the discipline and research practices while simultaneously offering students the possibility to create individualized programs. We actively work with our students to encourage them to participate in internships and off-campus programs of study, aimed at getting students integrated into the local community. Students earn course credits for working as interns with businesses in economic development and real estate, with governmental planning agencies, and with non-profits. Many of these internships take place during the summer, and for many students they lead to their first job.

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

B.A. in Geography

1. Understand the unifying themes of both human and physical geography as well as have a working knowledge of the discipline’s diverse conceptual and methodological approaches within an interdisciplinary context.

2. Demonstrate an ability to develop research questions, critically understand data sources, data bias, and data analysis and presentation, understand the range of research methods, integrate scholarly literature, and conduct research using primary and/or secondary source material.

3. Identify, characterize, analyze and compare/contrast spatial patterns and structures; the interrelationships between people and places; and the interactions between nature and society, and the underlying processes that shape these within a context of social and environmental change.

4. Recognize applications of geography in everyday life and respond creatively and effectively to local and global challenges.

5. Demonstrate an ability to engage in independent high-order critical thinking and synthesize, process, and present geographic concepts, approaches, methodologies, and applications in oral, written, and visual forms.

6. Understand geography as providing a systematic framework for examining environmental and social problems and apprehend their roles, individual and collective.

B.S. in Geography

1. Demonstrate knowledge of core principles of physical geography in climatology, biogeography, landscapes, and/or water resources.

2. Recognize the key factors influencing global and regional climate in the past, present, and future.

3. Evaluate linkages between the natural environment and human systems.

4. Demonstrate ability to create, refine, and interpret graphical data.

5. Identify and utilize appropriate methods and techniques for analyzing data to answer geographic questions.

6. Each of the three potential B.S. tracks (Physical Geography, Geographic Information Science, and Water, Land & Society) also has course-specific learning outcomes that represent each specialization. 

B.S. in Urban & Regional Development

1. Demonstrate knowledge of urban and regional development concepts and theories and how they relate to real world practice.

2. Analyze relationships between demographics and the organization of economic activity in space.

3. Identify, analyze and interpret spatial variations in economic activities, processes, and settlements.

4. Assess the sustainability and resilience of activity spaces and land use patterns.

5. Apply basic statistical and mapping techniques.

6. Analyze data to find patterns.

7. Propose and test hypotheses using a range of qualitative and quantitative techniques.

8. Discriminate between methods to identify best approaches for evidence-based problem solving and justify selection of methods and data.

9. Communicate effective solutions to stakeholders using graphical, numeric, textual, and visualized data. 

B.A. in Environmental Studies

1. Gain a full breadth of knowledge in the field of Environmental Studies.

2. Understand concepts required for success in an environmental profession.

3. Understand human dimensions of environmental issues.

4. Be able to analyze environmental and natural resources policy.

5. Understand theories of human-environment relationships, political economy of the environment, and environmental justice.

6. Understand relationships between human activities and environmental/health sustainability. Understand causes and effects of regional and global environmental change.

7. Acquire the methodological skills required to act successfully

Assessment Activities: 

B.A. Geography Assessment 

  • Ongoing administration and analysis of exit surveys
  • Develop course-level activities include self-assessment surveys at the beginning and end of key courses; design rubrics for presentations, group work, and research papers that can be used across courses
  • Devise questions embedded in course exams and activities designed to measure learning outcomes at the course level with particular attention to consistency across capstone classes.

B.S. Geography Assessment 

Proposed assessment activities that the faculty of the B.S. in Geography subcommittee will develop:

1. Course-level entrance and exit surveys. Work with instructors to include (1) course-level entrance and exit exam-style surveys that test effectiveness of learning objectives at the course-scale. We also encourage mid-term surveys, similarly using direct and indirect questions; (2) specific questions on degree-specific learning outcomes administered during exams for juniors and seniors who are B.S. majors. Our goal is to have these surveys contain common questions that map back to our degree-level outcomes. These before and after surveys will provide information on progress made towards achieving outcomes over a semester.

2. Research papers and oral presentation assessment projects. We will work on designing a scoring rubric for class presentations and papers by B.S. majors so that some of the same things are evaluated across classes and degree tracks.

3. Majors exit interview: revise exit interviews and work with the undergrad advisor(s) to apply them and assess results. This includes reviewing results of past exit interviews that are on file. 

Findings and Changes Made in Response to Findings: None to date. 

B.S. Urban and Regional Development Assessment

The outcomes listed above are linked to specific courses in the URD curriculum via a course/outcomes matrix. For example, GEOG 471: Problems in Regional Development, contains activities and builds skills that promote learning outcomes 1, 3, and 5-9. The matrix was developed by the URD curriculum subcommittee, comprised of faculty members who teach courses in this major. 

Program Learning Outcomes vs. Class Matrix.

Class

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

GEOG 471

o

 

o

 

o

o

o

o

o

GEOG 305

o

o

o

 

 

 

 

 

o

GEOG 222

 

 

 

 

o

o

 

o

o

GEOG 453

o

o

o

 

o

o

o

o

 

GEOG 454

o

o

o

 

o

o

o

o

 

GEOG 379

o

o

o

 

 

o

 

 

o

GEOG 456

o

o

 

o

 

 

o

o

o

GEOG 367

o

o

 

o

 

o

 

o

o

GEOG 371

o

 

o

 

 

o

 

o

o

GEOG 416A

 

 

 

 

o

o

o

o

o

GEOG 357

 

 

o

 

o

o

 

o

o

 

Assessment activities in each of the classes are organized as: Presentation;  Document analysis; Participant observation; MS Excel; Online data archives; MS Powerpoint for presentation; Google Map; Google Earth; Basic descriptive statistics; Basic inferential statistics; Charting and graphing; Formulate research question; Hypothesis testing; Interview Survey; Collaborative working; Peer-review research data sourcing; Q-GIS; Word processing; Report writing; Problem solving; Interdisciplinary work; Stakeholder engagement; SPSS; and Geoda. The next step will be to develop grading rubrics for each of these activities so that outcomes can be measured. 

Findings and Changes Made in Response to Findings: None to date. 

 

EVS Assessment 

The development of the assessment plan is still in progress, but a draft of the assessment activities that map to the outcomes is outlined in the table below. 

Learning Outcome Number

Learning Outcome Statement

Assessment Activity

Course or Assessment Activity

1

Demonstrate a full breadth of knowledge in the field of Environmental Studies through identification of key theories, concepts, arguments and cases in EVS.

Student portfolio presented at end of semester in which EVS 498 is taken (7th or 8th semester)

EVS 498

Embedded exam questions

EVS 498

2

Demonstrate proficiency or better in concepts required for success in an environmental profession.

Student portfolio presented at end of semester in which EVS 498 is taken (7th or 8th semester)

EVS 498

3

Understand human dimensions of environmental issues.

Student portfolio presented at end of semester in which EVS 498 is taken (7th or 8th semester)

EVS 498

4

Be able to analyze environmental and natural resources policy.

Student portfolio presented at end of semester in which EVS 498 is taken (7th or 8th semester)

EVS 498

5

Understand theories of human-environment relationships, political economy of environment, and environmental justice.

Student portfolio presented at end of semester in which EVS 498 is taken (7th or 8th semester)

EVS 498

6

Understand relationships between human activities and environmental/health and sustainability. Understand causes and effects of regional and global environmental change.

Student portfolio presented at end of semester in which EVS 498 is taken (7th or 8th semester)

EVS 498

7

Acquire the methodological skills required to act successfully in EVS-related profession, including policy analysis, data analysis, report writing, and effective presentation skills.

Exam on key skill sets that are identified in the GEOG 222 course description

These will be 3-4 embedded exam questions or 1-2 scenario-based questions embedded in a final exam in GEOG 222

Exit survey

Survey to be administered in a senior capstone course

 

Findings and Changes Made in Response to Findings: None to date. 

Assessment Findings: 

Findings from Exit Surveys from All Graduating Majors)

The exit survey focuses on the factors that attracted students to the major; changes they would like to see in the major; self-assessment of familiarity and ease with major areas of the discipline (thematic and theoretical); self-assessment of level of knowledge of key methods used by researchers in the field; courses that were of particular use in improving these skills and knowledge areas.

Þ   Students are generally satisfied with their level of competency in key areas and with the improvement that they have made over the course of their studies in the School.  The level of competence students ascribe to themselves in some areas is determined by the core and methods courses they have selected, as there is flexibility within each section of the major.

Þ    Students in the regional development major often identify classes in real estate as the one major area in which the School does not offer adequate classes.  All students demonstrate an increasing interest in the areas of sustainability and globalization.

Þ    Students are increasingly concerned about career and employment possibilities, but are generally attracted to the major by the content of its courses or interaction with an instructor of a course taken prior to selecting the major.

Þ    Students are concerned about having access to the most recent technologies and software used in the field

No findings from degree-level assessment to date.

 

 

 

Change in Response to Findings: 

Changes Made on Basis of Findings from Exit Surveys

      Þ    The School has expanded its course offerings, for instance adding classes in Sustainable Development (URD core) and the Green Economy to meet student interests in sustainability.

      Þ    It has also expanded its offerings of key methods courses to meet student concerns regarding the availability of courses that were offered in alternating years or semesters. These courses are now offered more frequently.

      Þ    Computer lab hours have been extended and student access to software used in their courses increased.

      Þ    Offering academic credit to those students who participate in the School’s weekly research colloquium.

No changes in response to findings at degree level yet.

Updated date: Tue, 02/17/2015 - 09:14