EART Fall 2011 Spring 2012

Earth Sciences Newsletter

For a review of the major developments in our department
for Fall 2011 through Spring 2012,
please review our
2012 May Newsletter.


In Fall 2011 and Spring 2012, we continued the ongoing closed-loop SLO-assessment process that we began the year before for our core courses. We added in our new course: Environmental Geology (GEOL 30), as well as our burgeoning field program. SLO exams were given to all students on finals day, preceding their final exam. Results were tallied and discussed by instructors via email and in group face-to-face meetings. New resources were developed.

Each of these instructor feedback forms is on file with the department chair. All data is on file with the department. Highlights follow.

Highlights from Faculty Feedback Forms


We made no changes to the Department mission or program SLOs this year. Though we did make many changes to the resources available to students based on our assessment of their needs for successful transfer.

  • Developed an alumni website and email list to help us gather information on alumni successes and challenges -- included highlights from alumni in our yearly newsletter.
  • Continued to place our students in internships (paid and volunteer) -- this year with Mt. Sutro, Romberg Tiburon Marine Labs, and USGS.
  • Continued and more active collaboration with AGU -- Fall conference in San Francisco -- sending 7 of our students.
  • Added a more robust Earth Science in the News portion to website to help connect students more to real-work applications.
  • Attended Summer 2012 workshop on improving transfer success for 2-year-college students in the geosciences
  • Attended Summer 2012 workshop on developing collaborations with 4-year-college and research institutions to bring research opportunities to our geoscience 2-year-college students
  • FUTURE PLANS: develop industry and research contacts to improve job skills we teach in our labs, to create more career resources for our students (especially careers in geoscience with just an AA), and to give students more research choices


Updates to our teaching resources include:


Our majors have all been approved by the state and implemented, however we have no data at this time on how many, if any, students are obtaining degrees with these majors. We plan to become more active with gathering and assessing these data in Fall 2012.


Each of our instructors regularly reviews their course outline and in-class methodology and makes changes based on a variety of assessment tools. We have documentation of many of these changes and the results (entire closed loop). See Faculty Annual Feedback Form for the document we use in our department to collect this information. In the completed documents, we describe a host of changes made and effects noted. See below for a small sampling of examples from a variety of instructors and classes. ALL instructor's complete reviews are on file.

Changes made | Effects noticed in the students as a result

  • Incorporated iClicker use into lectures beginning in Fall 2011 semester. | Greater student attentiveness
  • Clarification of importance of iClicker participation as a learning tool. | iClicker participation increased to 100% in Spring 2012 semester (80% in Fall 2011).
  • Implemented optional creative-expression homework assignments for Geol 10 and Ocan 1. | Quality resources created, which all students benefit from (since online). Students who participated were more engaged in class, especially in sections that pertained to their project, and felt more attachment to the class and how it could be relevant and fit in with their lives. Better attitudes and relationship to material.
  • End-of-semester key-concept quizzes are refined and improved. | The end of semester quizzes are more for me to judge what I need to spend more (or less) time on during the semester—however, I’m seeing now that these last-day assessments for SLOs are really useful for students, too.
  • I allow students to re-take different versions of the quizzes (only if they took it the first time with the class) to improve their scores. | Students who make the effort invariably improve and demonstrate deeper understanding of the material.  This is shown both on the quizzes as well as on sumitive assessments (exams).
  • Stricter attendance policies. | A higher percent of students who are not committed to learning leave the course earlier in the semester.  I still have work to do in this area.
  • Posting lecture slides online (lecture) | Students spend less time taking notes and more time studying them.
  • Posting examples of good student work online (lab) | Students strive for the expected quality level in their lab work .