Academic Program Review Committee Report

Department of Geography/Earth Science

April, 2007

Prepared by the Academic Program Review Subcommittee: Helen Skala


APR’s Summary of Self-Study


            The Department of Geography and Earth Science resides in the College of Science and Allied Health and offers four majors, six minors, a certificate program in GIS and contributes to the broadfield social science major.  In recent years, the department has averaged about 75 majors and 60 minors.


Goals and Objectives

            The department’s programs are designed to develop the knowledge and practical skills that students would need for (a) careers in Geography involving evaluations of the geographic or spatial characteristics of human societies and physical environment or (b) pursuing graduate students in Geography and related fields.


Departmental Strategic Plan

            During the next five years, the Department plans to

  1. maintain a balance between cultural and physical geography in future replacements of retiring faculty;
  2. seek pedagogical and research collaborations with members of appropriate departments (e.g. biology, business, history, river studies, education, archaeology) and extend undergraduate research;
  3. develop new courses teaching the fundamental concepts of GIS and GPS aimed at the general campus community and pursue future expansion of its community outreach programs;
  4. assess and revise its curriculum, learning outcomes and scheduling of courses both for major/minor courses and in general education;
  5. incorporate awareness of career opportunities and graduate study in advising sessions and expand the internship program


Strengths of the Department

  1. The department offers a variety of courses that train students in various methods of geographical analysis for studying local, regional and global geographic phenomena.  Survey data indicate that students are competitive in the market place.
  2. The faculty have diverse specialties, are committed to undergraduate teaching, have a program of scholarly activities and have successfully sought external funding.
  3. State-of-the-art GIS computer facilities support departmental programs and students are exposed to the latest technology for spatial analysis. The number of GIS majors has significantly increased.
  4. The Department has articulated clear future goals as evidenced by its five-year Strategic Plan.


Areas of Improvement

  1. Streamline the curriculum so students finish their programs more efficiently.
  2. Revise general education courses to increase enrollment.
  3. Improve student advising, increase internships opportunities and expand undergraduate research.
  4. Develop a systematic assessment of all courses.


External Review Summary

            An external review of the department was prepared by M. Duane Nellis from Kansas State University.  Dr. Nellis described the Geography/Earth Science Department as “one of quality with faculty committed to offering students a comprehensive program.”  Some areas of further development were suggested.

  1. Restructure the overall geography curriculum so that students can take key courses sequentially and complete their programs in a timely manner.
  2. Emphasize career opportunities, design more structured internships and enhance research activities by faculty to include undergraduate participation.
  3. Create entrepreneurial efforts linked to the Center for GIS to attract more majors and create more faculty synergies.


APR Committees Recommendations

  1. Continue utilization and expansion of the GIS Center and related curriculum.
  2. Streamline the curriculum for more efficient delivery.
  1. Revise general education courses to increase enrollment.
  2. Incorporate awareness of career opportunities in advising, seek internship opportunities and undergraduate research.
  3. Develop a standard assessment portfolio for all courses.








Academic Program Review SUMMARY*  


Department under review____Geography/Earth Science______


Date self-study received in Dean’s office       2006

Date of external consultant’s review        November, 2005

Date APR received report         Fall, 2006

APR’S summary of self-study (first two boxes must be completed)

APR’s summary of how the academic program attempts to reach its goals and objectives and the extent to which those goals and objectives have been achieved.

 See attached

APR’s comments including:

Notable Strengths

Notable Weaknesses

See attached

APR comments on any/all of the six specific components of the self-study  (if applicable)

 See Attached

Self Study: Purposes


Self Study: Curriculum


 Self Study: Assessment of Student Learning & Degree of Program Success


Self Study: Previous Academic Program Review and New Program Initiatives


Self Study: Personnel


Self Study: Support for Achieving Academic Program Goals (Resources)


External Reviewer Recommendations

APR’s Comments on External Reviewer (if applicable)


Department’s response to the Reviewer Recommendations

APR’s Comments on the Department’s Response (if applicable)


Dean’s Letter

APR’s Comments on Dean’s Letter (if applicable)


APR’s Recommendations (must be completed)

Recommendations:  See attached.


X No serious areas to address – review in 7 years

□  Some areas to address – review in 7 years

□  Some areas to address – department should submit short report on progress to Fac  

      Senate/Provost’s Office in 3 years

*  APR’s report to faculty senate will consist of this completed form in electronic form.