Geology at Tidewater Community College
by Shelley Jaye and Azam Tabrizi
The Geology Program at Tidewater Community College (TCC), Chesapeake Campus is part of the Division of Languages, Mathematics and Sciences. We are a growing department with one full time faculty and five to six adjunct faculty depending on need and availability. Our program began with one faculty member in the Summer of 2000 offering two lecture and two lab sections in Introductory Physical Geology. We now offer courses in Introductory Physical and Historical Geology and Earth Science. During the Spring 2009 semester we ran nine face to face lecture sections plus two online sections in Physical Geology reaching a total of 234 students. We will begin offering online Historical Geology in the Summer 2009 semester. TCC, Chesapeake is located in a suburban growth community serving six high schools and offering a multitude of degree and certificate programs.
Our small department offers the students a good environment in which to take their introductory science courses. The lecture and lab material are planned and coordinated by the instructors. The instructors follow the same lecture and lab topic schedules and use the same text and lab manuals to assure that the students all receive a consistent curriculum. Most lecture sections offer supplementary BlackBoard access where announcements, lectures, assignments, and grades are readily available to the students. The small department also allows the instructors to communicate regularly, provide support and cover for occasional absences, and, most importantly, keep track of students that may be facing personal or academic difficulties. In response to student need, tutoring has been arranged specifically in geology through our Student Academic Development office.
We offer a Geology Club which provides students with the opportunity to "dig a little deeper" into the subject matter. The Club plans local/regional field trips and opportunities to attend community events related to the Earth Sciences.
Our weaknesses involve technology and time. Most of the class assignments and lab activities are paper driven. Display technology and Internet access is available in the classroom for the instructor to use to enhance lecture and lab however direct student access to technology for classroom instruction is very difficult to schedule. With only one full time faculty who is also responsible for teaching a full credit load, release time is not available to pursue grants and other programs to enhance classroom instruction.
Our departmental planning process is quite simple and is accomplished by the full time teaching faculty member. Prior to each semester the student numbers are analyzed; appropriate numbers of lecture and lab sections are scheduled always with an anticipated 5-10% increase in student numbers to match the overall campus growth.