Developing Professional Military Scientists at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy

The Coast Guard Academy has developed and adopted a set of Shared Learning Outcomes (SLO’s) that articulate the desired knowledge, skills, and behaviors of our graduates. The Marine and Environmental Sciences curriculum achieves the SLO’s through a developmental approach to learning where reading, writing, quantitative analysis and critical reasoning skills improve incrementally as students progress through the MES program. In order to assess student learning and achievement of these Shared Learning Outcomes in individual courses and across the MES curriculum, the Science Department initiated the development of a comprehensive, multi-dimensional Student Development Model (SDM). The structure of the SDM is built on four categories of desired skills and behaviors, which we call Core Competencies. The Core Competencies are Knowledge, Technical Proficiency, Leadership and Communication. Each Core Competency has a set of desired performance-based outcomes, which we call Performance Dimensions. Each Performance Dimension in turn, has associated with it more specific behaviors and skills which we call Developmental Dimensions. Developmental Dimensions are classroom-level skills and behaviors that can be assessed for student proficiency. They are sequenced to represent appropriate student development from simple to more complex (i.e., more advanced). Development of the SDM began during the Summer 2006. Implementation began during the Fall 2006 with cataloging of current SDM practices as part of a larger MES program review process. Full implementation of the SDM will begin during the 2007-2008 academic year.