Initial Publication Date: September 25, 2014

Example Programs

The programs below are modified from actual traveling workshops at geoscience and environmental science departments. They are shown here to give departments and workshop leaders a starting place for conversations about what to include in their specific traveling workshop program. While every workshop includes some sessions focusing on the specific topics of interest to the department, there are also many optional possibilities: opportunities for the workshop leaders to meet with administrators or students, informal events such as meals or field trips, and more.


How does your program fit into the world and work your students will experience? Geoscientists are good at looking at the past to understand the present and predict the future Earth. We need to use those same skills to envision what the future will hold and how our departments and programs fit in that future. This activity will help foresee the kinds of knowledge and skills future graduates will need and how your department will contribute to filling this need. This core session will produce a set of touchstone ideas that will guide later sessions.

Session Goals

  • Build a department team
  • Develop a coherent articulated program where success depends on everyone's engagement
  • Think beyond the problems at hand


To prepare for the workshop, we ask all participants to reflect on the current state of the department, and to become familiar with recent initiatives related to GEO/STEM education:

Day 1

Session I: Envisioning Your Program

8:00-8:15 Introductions, Background of NAGT Traveling Workshop Program, Goals of Workshop, and Thanks to our Sponsors (NSF)

8:15- 9:45 AM - Envisioning Change: Consider the changing nature of the Geosciences, the geoscience workforce, your students, and the department role in the institution. Introduction to the Characteristics of Strong Departments with a discussion of what the department thinks it does well. Consider also Connect to the Future of Geoscience

9:45-10:00 BREAK

10:00-11:00 AM - Planning for Change:The facilitators will lead the group through a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis in the context of current challenges and the future envisioned in the previous activity.

11:00 AM-12:00 PM - Strategic Foci for Action Planning: A primary outcome of the workshop will be an action plan for the program developed by the group through the workshop activities. The first section of this plan presents the strategic foci for the plan. Reflect on the opening envisioning activities as well as the reasons for requesting this workshop, then convert the list of key ideas into a final list of strategic foci for departmental action and record in the first section of the Action Plan.

Session II: Program Design

1:00 -2:30 PM - Identifying Skills, Experiences, Content, and Values: What do you want your students to be able to do? Participants will develop a list of goals for their students, first individually and then collectively. The session will produce a set of measurable and assessable program-level learning outcomes.

2:30-3:30 PM - Developing a Program Matrix: How do students meet the program goals? Building a program matrix can help the department visualize where students are or could be building their knowledge, skills, and values.

3:30-3:45 PM Break

3:45-4:30 PM - Using the Matrix: The program matrix is a powerful tool for asking questions about where students are getting the important experiences we want for them as well as for hypothesis testing when student outcomes are not what we anticipate. This process is analogous to what scientists do all the time - generate a hypothesis, test it, and then using that information to feed back into the next round of hypothesis generation.

4:30-5:30 PM - Assessment and Closing the Loop: Making the leap from a "goal-like-object" to an assessable program outcome.

Evening Activity:
Reflect on the program design session as a whole. What have you learned about the process? about your program? Are there additional ideas that need to be recorded? Actions for the action plan?

Day 2

Session III: Action Planning and Departmental Management

8:00-8:15 AM - Review of Progress/Charge of the Day
What questions, issues, concerns emerged from yesterday's sessions? What are the prioritized goals for the department? How will these affect your development of an action plan? Identify 3-5 high priority action items to be developed into an action plan in the next session.

8:15-10:00 AM - Complete your Departmental Action Plan: Work in small groups to address the highest priority goals; record your recommendations and plans on the workspace.

10:00-10:15 AM - Break

10:15-11:00 AM - Walk through one or two action items in the action plan.

11:00-11:30 AM - Assessing your progress and outcomes; Reflect on process and its outcomes: What lessons have you learned for working as a departmental team?

11:30 AM-12:00 PM - Vision to Action: Challenges to Progress: How will the department implement and update the action plan? What needs to be done? By whom? On what timeline? What resources are needed? How will success be measured? How to self-monitor and motivate? How will the Action Plan be modifed as actions unfold or situations change? Implementation and Maintenance of your plan; what departmental structures will be put in place to ensure success? How will you maintain enthusiasm and momentum? How will you carve out time for action plan priorities? Commitment!

12:00-1:00 PM -Lunch

1:00-4:30 PM - Choose from one of the Elective Sessions:

OR: Continue with Development of your Action Plans and Department Matrix

4:30 - 5:00 PM - Workshop Wrap Up and Workshop Evaluation

Other resources available to support your efforts