Geology 460

GEOL 460
Senior Seminar in the Geological Sciences

Catalog Entry

GEOL 460
Senior Seminar in the Geological Sciences
Three hours lecture (3)
Prerequisites: GEOL 312
Introduces students to the geological profession, and how geoscientists communicate and present scientific data.  Students will gain expertise in critical analysis of scientific and technical data, and critiquing information from both non-scientific and scientific sources.  Students will gain practice in various written and oral presentation styles such as for professional presentations at meetings, and scientific articles and industry reports.  

Detailed Description of Course
1.    Introduction to the Profession of the Geosciences
a.    Organization by sub discipline
b.    Professional organizations
c.    Professional journals
d.    Jobs and careers
e.    Licensure
2.    Entrance into the profession
a.    Career planning
b.    Graduate schools and the GRE
c.    Job application process (resumes, job searches, job application, interview skills)
3.    Reading and in-depth critical analysis
a.    Deconstruction of professional and technical papers
b.    Organization of the information and ideas in a professional paper
c.    Extraction of key information by the reader
d.    Analysis of bias by author
e.    Analysis of data presented versus assertions and conclusions
4.    Critiquing sources of information
a.    Websites
b.    Popular media (TV, magazines, etc.)
c.    Professional journals
5.    Information searches
a.    Web searches
b.    Library based bibliographic searches, database searches
c.    Citations of information sources
6.    Writing
a.    Short summaries of geological literature
b.    Technical papers for industry
c.    Full professional-style papers and posters
d.    Graphical methods of presenting data, including use of computer software
7.    Oral presentation
a.    Seminar style discussions
b.    Use of presentation software and graphics
c.    Full professional presentations
8.    The peer review process
a.    Practice as both a reviewer and being reviewed

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course
The course will be project oriented with minimal lecturing by the professor.  Students will work in a variety of settings that will mimic experiences in industry and academia.  
1.    Resume writing and job searching
The course is intended to be taught primarily to seniors in the fall semester, and activities such as resume writing, job searching will be extremely relevant, in real-time, to actual experience.
2.    Reading-based activities:
a.    Diagramming the information and flow of ideas and data in a professional paper
b.    Quick extraction of ideas and conclusions from a number of related papers
c.    In-depth reading of a single paper
3.    Data search exercises
a.    Web searches
b.    Library exercises using geological databases
4.    Writing-based exercises
a.    Short summaries of groups of related articles
b.    Writing a technical paper based on real industry case studies
c.    Writing an abstract (part of the term project)
d.    Writing a full researched journal article (part of term project)
5.    Oral presentations
a.    Seminar style discussions: students will research, prepare materials, and lead a class discussion, similar to a graduate school seminar class or in an industry setting
b.    Full professional presentations: students will prepare and present in an open forum, a presentation similar to that at a professional conference (part of the term project)
6.    Software-based exercises
a.    Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel
b.    Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
7.    The term project
a.    Student, in consultation with the professor, will develop a topic to research, based on a central theme or groups of themes
b.    Student will develop bibliographic references and will research the topic
c.    Student will prepare charts and graphics
d.    Students will submit a first draft to be critiqued by the professor
e.    Class will be divided into peer review panels.  Student will submit a second draft to the peer review panel and will review other students work as part of a panel
f.    Final oral presentation, open to the public, including question and answer period
g.    Final paper submission

Goals and Objectives of the Course
GEOL 460 addresses the following departmental learning outcomes, as stated in the Departmental Assessment plan:
1.    Students will conduct geological literature reviews and critically analyze geologic data;
2.    Students will demonstrate the use of computer techniques in geologic applications.
3.    Students will be able to effectively communicate, both in writing and verbally, with geologists, other scientists, engineers, and non-professionals.
4.    Students will identify and be able to properly apply for positions in the geologic profession and graduate programs.

Assessment Measures
Written papers and oral presentations will be assessed by grading rubrics that will include measures of: information content, logic, clarity, style, and quality of bibliographic sources.  The course will include smaller exercises in resume writing, bibliographic searches, and graphics and image development using computer software, as well as a major term paper and presentation.

Other Course Information

Review and Approval
March, 2010