The purpose of the Geology Capstone Experience (GLY 491/492) at Marshall University is to give students experience doing research or project-related work. Geology majors may fulfill the Capstone Experience requirement one of three ways:
- Senior Thesis
- Field Camp
- Seminar in Geology
There are specific guidelines for completion of the capstone requirement in all four of the above areas. The guidelines are provided with the expectation that students will take the necessary time and care to plan, execute, and present the results from their project. Failure by students to adhere to these guidelines may delay completion of their capstone requirement and even their date of graduation.
The guidelines are broken into the following categories:
- Students should complete their capstone project in the semester prior to the term in which they will graduate. For example, if a student plans to graduate in December 2016 at the completion of the fall 2016 semester, the capstone should be completed by the end of the spring 2016 semester.
- Students who have not had a capstone project approved at least one calendar year prior to their target date of graduation will automatically be enrolled in the Geology Seminar Class.
- Students may satisfy the capstone requirements by registering for 2, 3 or 4 credit hours.
- For the senior thesis or internship option, approximately 30 hours of work — time spent in the field or lab, data analysis, writing of report, etc., is expected per credit hour. Students should sign up for GLY 491 (Fall) or GLY 492 (Spring) regardless of the option selected.
- The work products required for the capstone will depend on the option that students select. Table 1 summarizes these requirements.
|Project Type||Proposal||Report1||Presentation1||Basis for Grade|
|Senior Thesis||Required; to be approved in semester prior to project||Required; to be approved at least 7 days prior to presentation.3||Required5||Report 70%
|Internship||Not required; Form required2||Required; to be approved at least 7 days prior to presentation.4||Required6||Report 30%
Employer input 50%
|Field Camp||Not required2||Not required||Required7||Assigned by sponsoring institution|
|Geology Seminar||Not required||Not required8||Required9||Assigned by instructor|
Footnotes to Table 1:
1 Capstone reports will be kept on file in department; capstone grades for oral and written reports along with faculty comments will be kept in each student’s file and may be used by faculty when asked to comment about the student’s oral and written communication skills by graduate schools and/or potential employers.
2 Formal proposal not required, but student must receive prior approval from the coordinating professor and the employer, and fill out a form (Appendix E) for an internship. In the case of a Field Camp, the student must receive prior approval from the department chair.
3 Minimum of 12 double-spaced pages of text, plus tables, figures, references, etc. Report should include rigorous presentation, analysis, and interpretation of data.
4 Minimum of 8 double-spaced pages of text, plus tables, figures, references, etc. Report should include general description of duties during internship and rigorous presentation, analysis, and interpretation of data from at least one example project.
5 Oral presentation with visual aids (e.g., Powerpoint), 30- to 40-minutes in length. The presentation should summarize content of written report.
6 Oral presentation with visual aids (e.g., Powerpoint), 25- to 30-minutes in length. The presentation should focus on rigorous presentation, analysis, and interpretation of data from at least one example project.
7 Oral presentation with visual aids (e.g., Powerpoint), 25- to 30-minutes in length. The presentation should focus on itinerary of field camp, major exercises, and a summary of the geology setting(s).
8 Although no report/thesis is required, the instructor of this class will typically require a specific number of term papers per semester. This information will be provided on the syllabus on the first day of class.
9 At least one in class presentation will be assigned by the instructor. This information will be provided on the syllabus on the first day of class.
Senior Thesis Guidelines
- Geology students doing a senior thesis for their capstone are required to prepare a written proposal for review by the geology faculty. Proposals must be structured according to the outline provided in Appendix A.
- A proposal must be submitted and approved in the semester prior to the one in which the work will be executed. For example, if a student plans to graduate in December of 2017, he/she should submit and receive approval for his/her proposal by December 2017 and complete the capstone during the spring semester of 2017.
- The geology faculty may require that the student revise the proposal prior to its approval. The proposal must be approved by the faculty before a project may be initiated.
- Following completion of the research project, a written report (as well as an electronic copy) of the senior thesis must be submitted and approved by the geology faculty.
- The report must be structured according to the outline provided in Appendix B. It must be a minimum of 12 double-spaced pages of text, plus tables, figures, references, etc., and should include rigorous presentation, analysis, and interpretation of data.
- The report must be submitted a minimum of 7 days prior to the oral presentation. Following the oral presentation the student must make any required revisions to the written report and resubmit the revised version to their thesis advisor. A final grade for the senior thesis will not be given until the written report has been revised to the satisfaction of the student’s thesis advisor. The senior thesis will be graded following the departmental rubrics for technical writing (Appendix B).
- Once the written report has been submitted, the student should consult with his/her advisor about scheduling a time and date for the presentation. The date of the presentation should be no less than 7 days from submittal of the report and no later than the last day of classes for the same semester in which the report is submitted.
- Presentations should be 30-to 40-minutes in length and must adhere to the guidelines given in Appendix C.
- Part of the presentation grade will be based on the student’s ability to competently respond to questions from the audience. Evaluation will follow the departmental rubrics for oral presentations (Appendix C).
- The grade for the senior thesis will be based on the quality of the written report (70%) and the subsequent oral presentation (30%).
Approval of Internship for Capstone Credit
- A proposal is not required for an internship; however, students must declare their intent to fulfill the capstone requirement with an internship and receive approval from both the coordinating professor and the department chair at least one semester prior to the semester of presentation (2 semesters prior to graduation)
- The coordinating professor is designated according to the type of internship:
- Dr. El-Shazley: igneous/metamorphic petrology, geochemistry
- Dr. Martino: coal, oil, or natural gas; sedimentology, stratigraphy
- Dr. Niemann: engineering or environmental geology; hydrogeology, GIS
- Dr. Scharman: structural geology; Tectonics; Geophysics, GIS
- Approval ideally should be obtained prior to beginning the internship or within a reasonable time frame after beginning the internship. Approval to use an internship for capstone credit will generally not be given after an internship has been completed.
- Following completion of the internship, a written report (as well as an electronic copy) must be submitted and approved by the geology faculty.
- The report must be structured according to the outline provided in Appendix B. It must be a minimum of 8 double-spaced pages of text, plus tables, figures, references, etc., and should include a general description of duties during the internship and rigorous presentation, analysis, and interpretation of data from at least one example project.
- The report must be submitted a minimum of 7 days prior to the oral presentation. Following the oral presentation the student must make any required revisions to the written report and resubmit the revised version to their thesis advisor. A final grade for the senior thesis will not be given until the written report has been revised to the satisfaction of the student’s thesis advisor. The report will be graded following the departmental rubrics for technical writing.
- Once the written report has been submitted, the student should consult with his/her advisor about scheduling a time and date for the presentation, at least 7 days from submittal of the report.
- Presentations should be 25-to 30-minutes in length and must adhere to the guidelines given in Appendix C.
- Evaluation of the presentation will include the student’s ability to competently respond to questions from the audience. Evaluation will follow the departmental rubrics for oral presentations.
- The grade for the internship will be based on input from the student’s supervisor at the coordinating company or agency (50%), quality of the written report (30%), and the subsequent oral presentation (20%).
Field Camp Guidelines
- Students should be aware that each year the geology department offers a competitive partial scholarship for a Marshall student to attend a geology field camp. Application for this scholarship is typically in March/ April of each year.
Approval of Field Camp for Capstone Credit
- A proposal is not required to attend field camp; however, students must declare in advance of the field camp their intent to fulfill the capstone requirement with attendance at a field camp. Prior approval by the department chair is required.
- To be eligible for capstone credit, a field camp must be at least 6 weeks in duration and affiliated with an accredited academic institution.
- Capstone credit will be given only for successful completion of a field camp, including a passing grade from the sponsoring institution.
- Presentations on the field camp experience should be 25-to 30-minutes in length and must adhere to the guidelines given in Appendix C.
- Although the presentation is not part of the capstone grade, it will be scored and critiqued by the geology faculty. Presentation grades and faculty score sheets will be kept on file for each student for future reference regarding oral communication skills.
- The grade for field camp is assigned by the institution sponsoring the field camp.
- The Geology seminar is designed for those students who have not had another option (I-III above) approved one calendar year before graduation.
- The seminar will be worth 2 hours of credit. Students who need more than 2 hours of capstone coursework need to supplement their enrollment with 1-2 hours of GLY 485-488 “Independent Study”.
- The seminar will be a regular class scheduled once a year (each Spring). It will meet regularly for 2 hours each week.
- The main objectives of the Geology Seminar will include (but are not limited to) (1) improving the students’ oral and written communication skills, (2) training students on various aspects of geological data collection, processing, and interpretation, and (3) critically assessing scientific papers in Geology; and (4) some research aspects in one or more subdisciplines in Geology.
- The instructor of the Geology Seminar may discuss one or more of the following topics: organizing student portfolios, and/ or exploring various techniques for “job hunting”, “graduate school applications”, and “networking”.
- Criteria for grading will be on the syllabus provided on the first day of class. A sample syllabus is attached to this document in Appendix D.
Requirements for Senior Thesis Proposal
A good project begins with a good proposal. The proposal to do a senior thesis in geology is a planning document prepared for the benefit of both the student and faculty.
This requirement is intended to promote consistency and quality projects that can be performed by students in the most efficient manner possible.
It is anticipated that a proposal prepared according to the following guidelines will require approximately 750 words, equivalent to four double-spaced typed pages (12-point Times Roman font with 1-inch margins).
- Title page
- The title for your project should be specific and descriptive of what you are trying to accomplish.For example, a title like “Proposal to study the Marshall Formation” is not nearly as informative as “A proposal to interpret depositional conditions of the Marshall Formation based on macrofossil assemblages in eastern Kentucky.”
- The title page of your proposal must include signature lines for all geology faculty to indicate that they have read and approved the proposal:Signature: __________________
Dr. Smith has read and approved this project proposal.
- Should be a one-page summary (maximum of three paragraphs) of the project and its elements. It should include a brief statement of the problem, the approach you will follow in solving it, and possibly the expected outcomes and benefits of the project. Avoid using acronyms, abbreviations, or strange terminology in the abstract.
- This section should state the significance of your project and provide background information.
- Summarize previous work related to your topic. This may include published work in a technical journal or unpublished work such as that done by your advisor or another student during a previous capstone. (If you don’t know of any related work to discuss, chances are you haven’t done your homework and aren’t ready to write your proposal!). Use standard scientific format to cite previous work, e.g., “Jones (1998) described brachiopods from the Marshall Formation,” or “Brachiopods are numerous in exposures of the Marshall Formation (Jones, 1998).”
- What will you attempt to accomplish with your project? Being as specific as possible in describing your goals may save you hours of work later on!
- Will your project offer something completely new or a different angle on something that has already been done on the same topic? Be specific as to what your project will contribute to knowledge in the subject area.
- Are your goals tangible or measurable such that you will know when they have been accomplished? (Note: the end of the semester or your graduation date does not constitute a valid reason for terminating your study if the goals remain unfulfilled!).
- Is there a reasonable possibility that your primary goals may not be achieved because of a problem with equipment or methodology or other factors? If so, acknowledge this and state a backup plan.
- What procedures or methods will you be employing in collecting and analyzing your data? Cite any standard methods, e.g., “The fossil communities described by Smith (1982) will be the basis for identifying the macrofossil assemblages from the Marshall Formation.”
- Will you be using lab and/or field equipment or software to accomplish your goals? If so, what is it — make, model/version number? Does the department own it and is it currently working, or do you have access to it somewhere else? Have you confirmed with your advisor that he/she will be available to help you during the time period you are planning to use the equipment/software?
- How much time will your project require? A 2-credit hour capstone should involve an average of 4 hours per week for the duration of a 15-week semester, a total of 60 hours. Will you be doing most of the work in chunks, such as full days during the summer, or four hours each week? If you find that your project will require significantly more than 60 hours, consider registering for additional credit hours or scaling back your project in consultation with your advisor.
- Give an approximate schedule for when you will be doing your work including time frame for data collection, data analysis and a tentative date for submitting your written report and doing your oral presentation.
- Will your project require funds for any part of it, outside services, travel expenses, supplies, etc? If so, list these here and the anticipated amount(s). Note that funds may be available from the department of geology provided you give advance notice of your needs.
- Use standard scientific format in listing the references used in preparing your proposal. Examples are given below. If you don’t know of any references to cite, chances are you haven’t done your homework and aren’t ready to write your proposal!
El-Shazly, A. K. and Coleman, R. G., 1990. Metamorphism in the Oman Mountains in relation to the ophiolite emplacement. In Robertson, F., Searle, M. P. and Ries, A. (eds.), The Geology and Tectonics of the Oman Region. Geol Soc London Special Pub, 49, p. 475-495.
El-Shazly, A. K.; Coleman, R. G. and Liou, J. G., 1990. Eclogites and blueschists from NE Oman: Petrology and P-T evolution. J Petrology, 31: 629-666.
Requirements for Capstone Reports
Before writing your report, obtain and read one or two professionally written articles. This will give you insight into the topic and help you grasp how a technical paper is put together. Your advisor should be able to assist in locating these articles.
The report for the senior thesis should be a minimum of 12 double-spaced pages (12- point Times Roman font, 1-inch margins) not including figures, tables, maps, appendices and a list of references. The report for the internship should be a minimum of 8 double spaced pages.
Pages should be numbered and all figures, tables, maps, sources, and appendices must be referenced in the text. Refer to figures and tables in their appropriate places. For example: “… the plagioclases are normally zoned (Fig. 3) …”, or “Figure 2 shows that the plagioclases are normally zoned from An65 to An30”, or “Table 1 lists the chemical compositions of pyroxenes”. Do not use footnotes.
Define all acronyms or abbreviations after their first occurrence in the text or use a separate page if necessary for this purpose.
Capstone reports must include the following headings:
- Title page
- Title page of your report must include signature lines for all geology faculty members to indicate that they have read and approved the report.Signature: __________________
Dr. Smith has read and approved this project proposal.
- Should be a one-page summary (maximum of three paragraphs) of the project and its elements. It should include a brief statement of the problem, the approach you followed to solve it, the results that you obtained, and your conclusions. Avoid using acronyms, abbreviations, or strange terminology in the abstract.
- A brief history of the area of research, its significance, and how your project contributes to it. Some of this can be recycled from the text of your proposal.
- Document how you collected and analyzed your data including laboratory, field, lab, statistical, and/or computer methods. Be sure to reference standard methods where appropriate (e.g., “standard penetration tests were performed according to the American Society for Testing of Materials [ASTM] Method D-1586.”).
- Describe what you found in objective terms. This should be factual and clearly separate from your interpretation/discussion in the following section. Avoid long written descriptions of your results by taking advantage of summary tables, graphs, maps, etc., all of which should be referenced in the text.
- Tell the reader what your results mean. Can the results be interpreted in more than one way? Is the quality of the data an issue? (This may have been out of your control due to field conditions, etc.). If so, explain how it limits your ability to make interpretations. Were there certain aspects of your research plan that you could not follow or were forced to modify (e.g., number of samples)? Explain.
- Summarize what you found and what it means, how it adds to the topic that you addressed, and what might be done next to further this area of research. Be careful not to overstate the significance of your study; even for professional researchers, limitations in time, funds and other factors commonly constrain the types of conclusions that can be made from a single study.
- Acknowledge all sources of financial support, those who have extensively reviewed your manuscript, or those who have given you data/ideas.
- Use standard format as detailed above in Appendix A.
- Faculty members will review your report and likely request minor or major revisions, some of which may affect your oral presentation.
- When all of geology faculty members have signed the final, corrected copy of your report, submit the original to the geology secretary, who will then make you a copy for your use. Also submit an electronic copy of all text, figures, tables, etc.
- Other useful advice for writing geological reports can be found in the following on-line resources:
Earth Research – Academic and Scientific Research Services: Useful website with several tips on writing, and many other useful resources.
|Component||Level 1 (introductory)||Level 2 (milestone)||Level 3 (capstone)||Level 4 (advanced)||Points|
|Title||Meaningless||Confusing/Incomplete||Incomplete||Accurately describes project||(3)|
|Abstract||No data, no results, no conclusions||Concise, well organized, reflects data, results & conclusions||(7)|
|Introduction||Incoherent or nonrelevant; v. poor previous work; no objectives||Literature outdated, or relying heavily on internet; objectives unclear or incoherent||Literature search incomplete, or slightly outdated||Engaging; recent work up to date and comprehensive; objectives and rationale of study well stated||(15)|
|Methods/experiments||Methods not explained||Incoherent, poorly organized||Coherent, but incomplete||Detailed and well organized||(10)|
|Figures & Tables||Missing||Incomplete, or limited usage; print too small, unclear||Mostly complete, clear||Perfect; complete; relevant, w/ informative captions||(15)|
|Separation of data from interpretations||Data and interpretations mixed everywhere||>Not perfectly separated. Some places where mixed||Overall well separated, a few places where mixed||Well separated; well organized||(10)|
|Discussion||No discussion section, or no analysis, or incoherent, no understanding of technical terms or concepts||Limited discussion and analysis||Some portions of the discussion flawed; not all alternative explanations fully considered||Sound discussion covering all possible interpretations and explaining rationale behind selecting one or more particular interpretations||(25)|
|Follow prescribed format||Not followed||Several departures from required format||A few minor departures||Format, structure of paper, heading, subheading, organization followed in every detail||(5)|
|Readability||Almost unreadable; too many grammatical and spelling mistakes||Grammatical and spelling mistakes are distracting||A few grammatical and spelling mistakes||No errors in grammar and spelling||(5)|
|Appropriate reference citation and list||Inconsistent throughout the report; many references not cited; many references cited not in reference list; plagiarism||Citation method with errors; some references not cited; some references cited not in reference list; minor plagiarism||A few errors in citation; no plagiarism; a few citations not in list||Complete reference list; proper style; no errors in citation.||(5)|
Requirements for Oral Presentation
Once the written report has been submitted, talk to your advisor about scheduling a time and date for the oral presentation, no sooner than 7 days following submittal of the report. Remember that it is sometimes difficult to find a time and date that works for everyone, especially late in the semester, thus do not delay.
Students presenting the results of their senior thesis should plan for a 30- to 40-minute talk; presentations on internships and field camp should be 25 to 30 minutes in length. Students should anticipate and be prepared for questions from the faculty and other members of the audience. The ability to respond competently to these questions is an important aspect of the presentation.
Evaluation of presentations will be based primarily on the quality of their technical content, but the following considerations also will be factored into the grade:
- quality of slides/visual aids;
- effective use of time;
- competent response to questions.
Students should recognize that effective presentations are not simply recitations of a written report. Respect your audience by being prepared, or risk the consequences. Some good general advice for speakers:
- The most important factor in preparing a good presentation is rehearsal! Multiple rehearsals of a talk are normally required–even by professionals–before the “real” thing, in order to master content, timing, etc. (Make sure your advisor sits in on one of your rehearsals so he/she can provide input). It is usually obvious when speakers have not rehearsed their talks.
- Presentations should be supplemented with visual aids; this is most easily done using Powerpoint or overhead transparencies. An informative and entertaining talk normally provides a mix of text, pictures, tables, graphs, etc. Do not try and fit too much information on individual slides.
- A good rule of thumb is one idea per slide and one slide per minute of talk.
- Being nervous before a talk is normal, even for experienced presenters. Try not to be overly concerned. A talk does not have to be perfect to be effective.
- Never read verbatim from slides; make eye-contact with your audience and treat the talk as a “conversation.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, admit that you don’t know or are not sure; don’t try and bluff the audience. The audience usually will respect a speaker who goes this route. An educated guess may be appropriate, but be sure to state that’s what it is.
- An example scoresheet used to judge student presentations at an AAPG meeting is shown below.
|SKILL||Level 1 (introductory)
|Level 2 (milestone)
|Level 3 (capstone)
|Level 4 (Advanced)
|Delivery||Delivery (eye contact, posture, gestures, vocal expressiveness) obscures main points of presentation; speaker appears uncomfortable; difficulty responding to questions.||Delivery (eye contact, posture, gestures, vocal expressiveness) make presentation understandable, but speaker appears tentative; response to questions incomplete.||Delivery (eye contact, posture, gestures, vocal expressiveness) makes presentation interesting; speaker appears comfortable; response to questions adequate.||Delivery (eye contact, posture, gestures, vocal expressiveness) compelling; speaker confident and at ease in front of audience; response to questions adds to presentation.|
|Language||Language choices are unclear, not appropriate to audience, minimally support presentation.||Language choices are mundane and commonplace, appropriate to audience, support presentation.||Language choices are thoughtful, appropriate to audience, generally enhance presentation.||Language choices are articulate, memorable, appropriate to audience, and enhance presentation.|
|Organization||Presentation structural elements (introduction, conclusion, transitions, time, management) not observable.||Presentation structural elements (introduction, conclusion, transitions, time, management) intermittently observable.||Presentation structural elements (introduction, conclusion, transitions, time, management) generally observable.||Presentation structural elements (introduction, conclusion, transitions, time, management) clearly observable; makes content cohesive.|
|Central Message||Central message is implied but not explicitly stated.||Central message is understandable, but not clear or compelling.||Central message is clear but not compelling.||Central message is clear and compelling (precisely stated, appropriately repeated, memorable).|
|Supporting Material||Supporting material (tables, statistics, pictures, graphs) minimally complements and supports central message of presentation.||Supporting material (tables, statistics, pictures, graphs) partially complements and supports central message of presentation.||Supporting material (tables, statistics, pictures, graphs) generally complements and supports central message of presentation.||Supporting material (tables, statistics, pictures, graphs) significantly complements and supports central message of presentation.|
Sample Syllabus for the Geology Seminar option
GLY 491 Capstone Experience SP-18
None. Course will be based on literature search related to research project/topics selected
Office: XXXX; Office Hours: TBA
Time and Location:
Course will involve a team-based research project(s) that will focus on one or more topics selected by your instructor.
Approval of Instructor
|Course Objective||Student Activity||Assessment Tool|
|To provide experience in team-based research;||Class discussions, field work, Report preparation and presentation||Class participation grade Based on reliability, preparedness, cooperation, attitude|
|To improve skills in researching the literature for relevant publications||Tasks involving the acquisition and comprehension of literature relevant to the project||Written Report(s), Oral Presentation(s)|
|To strengthen report technical writing skills that conform to geologic journal format and critical thinking skills necessary to problem solving||Lectures, Class discussion, Field trips,
Lab demonstrations/ work
|Term paper(s), A poster paper to be presented at a professional meeting (ex. Sigma Xi, GSA)|
|To strengthen oral communication and presentation skills||Lecture, labs, field trips, Field Project||Class Participation, Oral presentations|
|Develop an understanding of key research topics selected by instructor||Field Project, Field Trips, literature search||Reports, Exams|
|Demonstrate aptitude in the field of Geology and command over its basic principles||Class discussion; tests.||Oral and written tests, graded assignments|
Any form of academic dishonesty* that occurs will result in dismissal from the course and an automatic final grade of “F”. A letter outlining the offense will be forwarded to the academic dean for consideration of further action (*see Undergraduate Catalog.)
Attendance will be kept by taking roll at the beginning of each class. If a student comes in late, it is their responsibility to notify the instructor at the end of class. Attendance during exams is mandatory. Only legitimate and verifiable excuses will be considered (serious medical, legal, or military reasons, or death in the immediate family).
Students should complete the assigned reading prior to coming to class or lab and be prepared to answer questions and participate in class and lab discussions.
|1||Course Overview, Introduction to Research Topic|
|2||Literature Search, Discussion assigned topics|
|3-9||Fieldwork/ Lab work/ Data Collection|
|10-12||Report Writing/ Oral presentations/Seminar Discussions|
|14-15||Final oral presentations|
By enrolling in this course, you agree to the following University Policies:
Academic Dishonesty/ Excused Absence Policy for Undergraduates/ Computing Services Acceptable Use/ Inclement Weather/ Dead Week/ Students with Disabilities/ Academic Forgiveness/ Academic Probation and Suspension/ Academic Rights and Responsibilities of Students/ Affirmative Action/ Sexual Harassment
Please read the full text of each policy by going to the Academic Affairs Policies & Resources page.
Form for the Geology Internship option
Students must declare their intent to fulfill the capstone requirement with an internship and receive approval from both the coordinating professor and the department chair at least one semester prior to the semester of presentation (2 semesters prior to graduation)