Geoscience in Two-year Colleges > Essays

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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The American Geophysical Union and Two-Year Colleges part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Bethany Adamec, American Geophysical Union
The American Geophysical Union is a not-for-profit society of Earth and space scientists with more than 62,000 members in 148 countries. Established in 1919 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., AGU advances the Earth and space sciences through its scholarly publications, meetings, and outreach programs.

Real-World Motivation part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Erica Barrow, Ivy Tech Community College-Central Indiana
I am excited to attend this year's workshop focusing on supporting 2YC geoscience student success. My name is Erica Barrow and I am in charge of Earth Science (SCIN 100) and Physical Science (SCIN 111) at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, IN. Ivy Tech is Indiana's only community college; the main campus in Indianapolis has current enrollments averaging 25,000 students per semester. I am the only full-time instructor in geoscience and oversee approximately 15 part-time adjuncts in my subjects. Earth Science and Physical Science are a part of the Associate of General Studies degree (LAS Division); Ivy Tech does not currently offer a specific degree in science or geoscience.

Using On Course Principles to Support Student Success part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Al Trujillo, Palomar College
Palomar College faculty have recently received four-day On Course Workshop training on incorporating On Course strategies in their classrooms. On Course is a series of learning strategies for empowering students to become active, responsible learners. There is abundant data that demonstrates how On Course active learning strategies have increased student retention and success. Dr. Skip Downing details On Course strategies in his textbook, On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life (Cengage Learning), which is used in college success courses.

Writing research-supported learning material for introductory geosciences part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Jessica Smay, San Jose City College
Jessica J Smay, San Jose City College Download this essay (Acrobat (PDF) 8kB Jun13 13) Writing a Lecture Tutorial Workbook: Lecture Tutorials are 1 to 3 page worksheets that use different questioning approaches, ...

Techniques I Use to Help My Students Think About Their Learning part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Karen Kortz, Community College of Rhode Island
A lifelong skill is for students to think about their learning, or be metacognitive about it. Although metacognition ties directly to student success, it is often not taught, and it is a skill that many two-year college students lack. One of my goals is to purposefully structure my courses to help students focus on and be more aware of their own learning.

I Will Try (Almost) Anything Once!!! part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Melvin Arthur Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc
Education is a life-long pursuit for me. I have continually attended school, not only for professional reasons, but also for personal interest. I share this interest in learning in whatever class I teach. I want the students to understand that education is an opportunity we need to embrace if we are to live in a society that is both wise and compassionate.

In-Class Group Exercises in Introductory Geology part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Fred Marton, Bergen Community College
One of the key challenges that I face in my introductory geology class is trying to show students who are not necessarily interested in science (and who sometimes do not have a good background in science and math) that the basic concepts we are trying to learn about are not overly complicated or specialized. To address this, I have used in-class group exercises and worksheets to introduce many topics. I want the students to use these exercises as a way of teaching themselves and therefore they are not asked to answer questions on topics that we have already spent time on (unless they have actually done the assigned reading). Instead, I present simplified scenarios or analogies that they can figure out by themselves and then I go on to explain and we explore how they are analogous to the topic of interest.

Promoting Student Success using Universal Design to Decrease Barriers in Higher Education part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Wendi Williams, Northwest Arkansas Community College
I began teaching as a graduate student, and have since continued to grow in my understanding of content as well as educational design and delivery as faculty contributing to both 2-year and 4-year public institutions. Through the years I have become increasingly aware of the many kinds of diversity in my students: learning preferences, amount of college preparation, first generation college-bound, ages represented by concurrent enrollment as high school students through retirees, persons with disabilities, English language learners, and military active duty and/or veteran status. Early in my association with UA-Little Rock, Earth Science faculty joined a pilot program with the Disability Resource Center. "Project PACE" was funded by the U.S. Dept. of Ed and UALR to teach faculty to use Universal Design techniques in order to reduce barriers for the majority of students while increasing access to higher education. NCES (2013) indicates that students with some college courses or who achieve degrees become members of the workforce at higher rates. If redesigning our courses lower barriers, then our 2YC population benefits even more in the long term.

Activities That Support Student Success in Traditional and Online Introductory Geoscience Courses at Wake Tech part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Gretchen Miller, Wake Technical Community College
I teach two introductory geoscience courses at Wake Tech, GEL 120: Physical Geology and GEL 230: Environmental Geology. I teach both courses in traditional, seated environments as well as online. All of our introductory geoscience courses (including the online sections) require both lecture and laboratory sessions and are 4 credit hour courses.

A New Geoscience Program in Energy and Sustainability Management part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Kim Frashure, Bunker Hill Community College
In 2012, I co-designed and launched a new certificate program in Energy and Sustainability Management (ESM) at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC). BHCC's mission statement highlights sustainability and, the goal of the ESM certificate program is to enhance marketability of graduates for jobs in the emerging fields of "green" facilities operation and renewable energy services. BHCC is a large, urban campus located in Boston, Massachusetts, with a current enrollment of 13,504 students (1). We are among the most diverse institutions in New England with 830 international students from 94 countries speaking 75 different languages (1). Opportunities exist at BHCC to recruit and develop a largely under-explored, new pool of diverse geoscientists. However, urban community college (CC) students who are interested in a geoscience career often possess challenges such as academic deficiencies in mathematics & English, and a lack of awareness about academic and career pathways, mentorships and resources. The ESM program was designed to include the following to ensure the success of our diverse student population: innovative curriculum and skills in energy and sustainability, an industry-based advisory board, a freshmen science seminar, and accelerated and contextualized learning in English.

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.

More than the Classroom at Trinidad State Junior College in Southern Colorado part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Debra Krumm, Trinidad State Junior College
Debra Krumm, Trinidad State Junior College Download this essay (Acrobat (PDF) 13kB Jun13 13) Addition of new faculty plus the receipt of U.S. Department of Education STEM grants has allowed for the expansion of ...

Local Rock Outcrop Project in Physical Geology & Historical Geology part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Susan Conrad, Dutchess Community College
One way I get Physical Geology & Historical Geology students in my mid-Hudson Valley community college to apply new concepts is by giving them the option of studying a local rock outcrop for their final project. The process is really a mini-independent study as students apply what they learn in class about minerals, rocks, maps, geologic processes, and plate tectonics to "their" outcrop. I visit many of the students at their outcrops. Students can also share their own videos and photos of their site visits with me. The geology of most of the outcrops has not been recently described or interpreted in the geologic literature, or even in local hiking guidebooks, in any meaningful way, so students really must make their own observations and interpret them in order to unravel the geologic history of their outcrop.

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 Salas de la Cruz, Quinsigamond 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, Metropolitan Community College (LA)
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.

Supporting Student Success part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
David Voorhees, Waubonsee Community College
The reason I became a geology instructor is that I want to instill the passion I have for the earth in my students. I want to be able to give to my students some of the understanding of how the earth works, because they are to become the stewards of this planet long after I am gone. I feel that I am not able to bring this passion and understanding to many of my students, and I continually try to engage all of my students, just as the geosciences engage all of them in their everyday lives. Most all effective instructors have a 'bag of tricks' through which they engage their students that evolves, as it should, as we get different populations of students in our classrooms. As most of my General Education, Survey of Earth Science students are millennials, engaging them is one of my biggest challenges as a geoscience educator. I have developed several ways that I think, bring to my students the nature of science, scientific inquiry, and along the way, make the content relevant to their lives. They fall into two groups: place-basedintegration and mentoring.

Beginning a Geoscience Program at a Two-Year College part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Brett Dooley, Patrick Henry Community College
I teach at Patrick Henry Community College, which resides in a fairly rural and economically depressed part of Virginia. Many of our students are first generation college students and are coming back to school for retraining after having lost a factory job. With the exception of earth science (GOL110), which is not a transferrable science course for general studies students and thus never had any significant enrollment, PHCC has only offered geology classes for four years. Having started the geology program at PHCC, there are three main areas upon which I am focusing to support geoscience students: introduction to the value of geoscience and access, transfer and career option, and training with workforce and transfer skills.

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.