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Essays on Geoscience at Two-Year Colleges

Participants in several workshops have contributed essays touching on various challenges and opportunities of teaching at two-year colleges.


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Turning challenges into opportunities: Teaching geoscience at a two-year college part of Essays
Karen Kortz, Community College of Rhode Island
There are many challenges with teaching geoscience at a two-year college, including, among others, lack of funding, lack of time, few (if any) courses beyond the introductory level, and the diverse student body. Although I could write about all of these challenges, I will focus on the diverse student body and how I use that challenge and turn it into an opportunity to better teach geoscience.

Why do we teach geoscience to non-majors? part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Essays
Kaatje Kraft, Whatcom Community College
Why do we teach geoscience to non-majors? Kaatje Kraft, Physical Science, Mesa Community College In a recent homework assignment a student submitted about the nature of geoscience, he cited a webpage that ...

Enjoy making observations and being frustrated? If you answered "yes", a career in geoscience is for you! part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Essays
Becca Walker, Mt. San Antonio College
Enjoy making observations and being frustrated? If you answered "yes", a career in geoscience is for you! Becca Walker, Earth Sciences and Astronomy, Mt. San Antonio College Geologists observe and ...

Teaching the scientific method at a community college part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Essays
Pier Bartow, Klamath Community College
Teaching the scientific method at a community college Pier Bartow, Natural Resource Systems, Klamath Community College About 4 years ago our science department at Klamath Community College (KCC) decided to ...

Building Success Skills into an Oceanography Curriculum part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Lynsey LeMay, Thomas Nelson Community College
Student success and developing those necessary skills in students extends beyond the geosciences and while I use geoscience topics, I work to address and develop cross-curricular success skills throughout assignments all semester. This is true in all classes that I teach, but I will describe how this has been built into the introduction to oceanography classes at Thomas Nelson Community College.

Steps towards Creating an Engaging Earth Science Curriculum part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Eriks Puris, Portland Community College
When I teach I strive to "put the phenomena first" and to "put observations before explanations" I do this not because I want to, but because I have found it to work. Initially in my teaching I stressed the understanding and appreciation of the basic physical and chemical processes which underlie the workings of the Earth, unfortunately this approach did not get me far with community college students. Eventually by trial and error I found it important to describe what I was explaining before explaining it. In retrospect this is less than surprising, but at the time it was an important realization to me! I have found students to be more likely to 'bite' and engage in learning if I begin with specific examples which are accessible and relevant to the students.

Student Response Devices and Online Homework to Support Geoscience Student Success in Traditional Lectures, Distance Learning and Online part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Bill Richards, North Idaho College
At this institution, the majority of students enroll in a geoscience course to fulfill a laboratory science requirement for the Associates' degree and mostly in Physical Geology (approx. 140 per semester and 40 during the summer session) and Physical Geography (approx. 120 per semester and 30 during summer session). Many 2yc students are not prepared for the level of "active learning" necessary to be successful in content-heavy lecture courses such as Physical Geology and providing students opportunities to become more active in their own learning process is a major focus of my curriculum development. A major activity within my freshmen courses is the use of the interactive student response devices (specifically the Q6 model from Qwizdom).

Preparing Students for Geoscience Careers – CCSF part of SAGE 2YC:Workforce, Transfer, and Careers:Preparing Students in Two-year Colleges for Careers:Essays
Katryn Wiese, City College of San Francisco
After transferring to a 4YC, my 2YC students should feel competitive, confident, and supported. To achieve that goal means setting up a support network of faculty and fellow students and giving them strong foundational skills, knowledge, and experiences. It also means building career and workforce skills. Since I cannot supply all of this myself, I rely on colleagues at 4YCs and research labs and industry and consultants. And I strive to bring part-time faculty into my department who can help us stay fresh in what the workforce wants.

Engaging Rural Alaskan Students in Geoscience part of SAGE 2YC:Workforce, Transfer, and Careers:Preparing Students in Two-year Colleges for Careers:Essays
Todd Radenbaugh, University of Alaska Fairbanks
In rural Alaska, the teaching of university level geosciences at University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) has been limited to a few 100 and 200 level courses offered through the UAF's Collage of Rural and Community Development (CRCD). CRCD has 5 rural campuses across the state that traditionally has focused on English and math instruction, tribal management, and courses to meet community needs.

Utilizing field experiences to create student interest in the geosciences. part of SAGE 2YC:Workforce, Transfer, and Careers:Preparing Students in Two-year Colleges for Careers:Essays
Kelly Bringhurst, Dixie State College of Utah
Dixie 
State
 College
 of
 Utah 
is 
located 
in
 Southern 
Utah 
at 
the 
border
 of 
the 
Colorado 
Plateau
 and
 the 
Basin
 and
 Range. We
 utilize 
this
 setting
 to
 give
 geologic 
field 
experiences
 to 
approximately 
600 
students
 a
 year.
 Field
 trips 
are 
required 
in 
all
 geology 
courses 
and 
range 
from 
local
 6‐hour
 trips 
to 
5‐day 
trips
 to
 the 
National
 Parks.

Texas A&M Geosciences and the increasing role of transfer students part of SAGE 2YC:Workforce, Transfer, and Careers:Preparing Students in Two-year Colleges for Careers:Essays
Eric Riggs, Texas A & M University
Texas A&M University at College Station is the flagship university for the Texas A&M System, and as such is a major destination for transfer students, both from inside and outside the A&M system. The College of Geosciences consists of four academic departments and many organized research centers spanning the core geoscience disciplines of Geology & Geophysics, Geography, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences...

InTeGrate Liaison and SAGE2YC Advisory Board Member from Pasadena City College part of SAGE 2YC:Workforce, Transfer, and Careers:Preparing Students in Two-year Colleges for Careers:Essays
Elizabeth Nagy-Shadman, Pasadena City College
In addition to being an advisory board member for SAGE2YC, I am a co-PI on the NSF-funded, five-year InTeGrate project that aims to improve geoscience literacy and build a workforce that can make use of geoscience to solve societal issues. My role is to oversee the involvement of 2-year colleges (2YCs) and to be certain that issues unique to 2YCs are identified and considered during the program development, testing, and dissemination. As such I am a liaison between the InTeGrate and SAGE2YC groups, and am very excited to be involved in both programs.

Preparing Our Workforce Initiative: Preparing Students at 2-Year Colleges for Geoscience Careers part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Heather Houlton, American Geosciences Institute
Over the past year, I have developed a program called the "Preparing Our Workforce (POW) Initiative", which teaches students about the many different types of career opportunities that are available in the geosciences. I piloted the program by facilitating in depth and interactive discussions with geoscience students at 7 different institutions, including a 2-year college. The presentation emphasized the importance of integrating students' interests, within and outside of geoscience, and their transferable skills to their geoscience career goals, which led to an increased awareness of the diversity of careers in the geoscience workforce. Additionally, I presented pertinent information about geoscience workforce trends, such as enrollments, supply and demand data and salaries of geoscientists. Lastly, I discussed best practices for networking and how to land a job or internship in our field.

A brief consideration of the correlation of pre- and post-testing as an indicator of student success in geology classes part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Joanna Scheffler, Mesa Community College
In the last two years my classes have been part of the GARNET (Geoscience Affective Research Network) project, with which some of the participants in this SAGE workshop are familiar. In this project, students were asked to fill out an MSLQ (Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire) at the beginning and toward the end of the semesters. In addition, the students took a pre-test and post-test of general concept geologic questions. I am by no means a statistician, but MSLQ surveys have not shown much movement between the first and second runs. I had hoped the general concepts pre/post –tests would show big differences, particularly since many students missed half or more of the questions in the pre-test. With few exceptions scores did improve in post-tests, but not as much as I had hoped. This held true in the second year (2012-2013 academic year) of the study, even though I have been addressing some learning strategies directly in my classes. Primarily I have asked my students to reflect on what their goals are for the class and how they intend to achieve those, followed by later assessments of where they stand on those goals. I have discovered that even for this low stakes concepts assessment I have to resist "teaching to the test". I have also been working on making my lecture classes more inquiry-based and less lecture-based.

Teaching Geoscience to Non-Science Majors: Using real-world examples and lecture worksheets part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Marianne Caldwell, Hillsborough Community College
Marianne Caldwell, Hillsborough Community College Download this essay (Acrobat (PDF) 34kB Jun13 13) Teaching geology and earth science to my students can be a challenge, as typically only a few students are ...

Crafting an In-house Lab Manual for Community College Geology Students part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Rebecca Kavage Adams, Frederick Community College
I am creating an in-house lab manual for historical geology at Frederick Community College (FCC). The manual needs to be tailored to non-geology and non-science majors, be affordable, and capitalize on the samples and equipment available at FCC. At this point we are still using a published lab manual that costs $125 and is a poor fit for our students and available supplies.

Back to basics using scientific reasoning part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Mariela Bao, Chemeketa Community College
Any teaching techniques I have tried so far all revolve around the same goal: teaching my students the process of science, from the scientific method to using communication skills to explain their findings. Many of my students come to my course with a fear of science; most of them truly believe that they are not good in sciences. So, in this short essay I will explain two of my most influential activities that so far, have changed the dynamic of my courses. Instead of pushing the science, I prefer to explain the discovery process before I tackle any geoscience topic. Two activities are used: (1) What is it? (2) Describe and Sketch.

Supporting Student Success in Geosciences at 2YCs through Field Based Learning part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Ben Wolfe, University of Kansas Edwards Campus
Ben Wolfe, Metropolitan Community College Download this essay (Acrobat (PDF) 42kB Jun13 13) The overwhelming majority of students at my institution take geoscience courses (e.g. physical geology or physical ...

Supporting Geoscience Education at the University of Wisconsin-Richland part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Norlene Emerson, university of wisconsin - richland
As I reflect on the goals that I have to support student success in geoscience courses, my thoughts first turn toward strategies I use to connect with each student as an individual learner. Since our students each have different skills, prior knowledge, capabilities, and reasons for being in school, I seek ways to provide content in visual, tactile, and audio means so that each student can connect to the material in the form that best suits their learning styles in order to optimize their learning. While content is important, the process of learning is just as important in an educational experience. Today's students are bombarded with information through social media, television, and print media often with sensationalized information concerning the Earth and the environment. Students need to develop their skills to assess critically what they hear and read especially concerning world issues such as mineral and energy resources, climate change, or mitigating natural disasters.

Ongoing Involvement and Taking Ownership of your Education: Homework, Feedback, and Interactions part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Steve May, Walla Walla Community College
As a full-time physical sciences instructor at Walla Walla Community College, a rural 2-year college, and an adjunct geology professor at Whitman College, a small liberal arts college, I work with two significantly different types of college students. I am often asked about the differences I observed between these two groups and the answer is a fairly simple one, and maybe not what people expect. Yes, the Whitman students probably have somewhat better entrance exam scores, but that is not what I believe to be the most significant difference – to me it is the fact that most of the 2-year students do not feel any real ownership of their education, whereas the Whitman students expect a great deal of themselves, as well as their professors. The way these differences manifest themselves is that a professor at Whitman can expect the vast majority of their students to show up for each class having fully prepared themselves for the topics to be discussed and ready to ask informed questions during class; whereas the 2-year college students need some strong inducements to learn the value of being prepared and what it feels like to have some sense of control and involvement regarding their education.