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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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Collaboration with Researchers to Enhance Community College Experience part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
Allison Beauregard, Northwest Florida State College
Being at a small community college, with only three geoscience instructors and very limited resources, I find the following to be among my biggest challenges:

Geoscience at Southwestern Illinois College part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
Joy Branlund, Southwestern Illinois College
A main goal of mine is to show students that everyone can do science, that science can and should be understood by all citizens, and that there are benefits to thinking scientifically. In short, I stress science literacy in my geoscience courses. The purpose of this essay is to address the importance of community colleges in geoscience education. The link between community colleges and science literacy is this: stressing science literacy at community colleges will positively change the way science is viewed an integrated in U.S. politics and society. This bold statement reflects the fact that many adults will take their only post-secondary physical science at a community college. We should not underestimate the roles of community colleges in creating educated and engaged citizens.

Geoscience at Hillsborough Community College part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
James (Jim) Wysong, Hillsborough Community College - Brandon Campus
Hillsborough Community College, like many large metropolitan community colleges in close proximity to major universities, has a high ratio of Associate in Arts (A.A.) to Associate in Science (A.S.) degree seekers. At the particular campus where I teach, that ratio approaches 9:1. Not surprisingly, the majority of students enrolled in the geosciences courses that we offer1 are seeking to fulfill general education requirements for a generic liberal arts A.A. or for a non-science university parallel A.A., rather than taking those courses for a terminal geosciences related degree or a university parallel degree in a geoscience major. Our college does have an Environmental Science Technology A.S. degree; however, most of the geoscience related courses required for that program are restricted to students in the program, and thus constitute only a very small part of our total enrollment.

Developing Earth Science Literacy in a 2 year college part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
David Voorhees, Waubonsee Community College
Developing and improving Earth Science and science literacy is one of the key driving motivations of my in- and out-of-class activities. Recent surveys (Pew Center, 2009, National Science Board, 2010) suggest an unreasonably poor understanding of basic geosciences. For example, in the these surveys, 28% of the participants responded that the sun goes around the earth‟, 31% said that humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time, and about half (49%) said the earth is getting warmer "mostly because of human activity, such as burning fossil fuels". Low scientific literacy is just part of the overall poor background that my typical earth science students have when they come into my classroom.

Using conceptually-based interactive teaching methods at two- year colleges part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
Jessica Smay, San Jose City College
One of the main strategies I use to meet several of the challenging aspects of teaching at a two-year college is to use conceptually-based interactive teaching methods. This strategy helps address the issues of 1) lack of resources, 2) teaching a very diverse student body with non-majors, under-prepared students, and students with diverse learning strategies, and 3) keeping the course of introductory Geology fresh and exciting for me and the students.

Build It and They Will Come - Using a Monitoring Well to Advance a 2YC Geoscience Program part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
Robert Blodgett, Austin Community College
A project to construct a groundwater monitoring well on an Austin Community College (ACC) campus provides a number of lessons on using limited resources to improve geoscience education at a two-year college. The project started with the help of Francye Hutchins, an enthusiastic 40-something geology student who though ACC should celebrate the first Earth Science Week. Still ongoing, the well project has received donations of equipment and services from seven businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations; dozens of hours of volunteer consultation from local hydrogeologists; media coverage in event attended by a state politician, students, and college officials; and after several years of success, a 200 square-foot wellhouse and teaching facility built by the college.

Quality, fieldwork, & blogging: my recipe for success part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
Callan Bentley, Northern Virginia Community College
There are a couple of items I'd like to touch on in this essay. Given the breadth of possible questions, I think it would be fair of me to mix and match a bit. So I intend to cover three things here, from general to specific: (1) quality, (2) field work, and (3) blogging.

Turning challenges into opportunities: Teaching geoscience at a two-year college part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges: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.

Supporting 2 Year College Geoscience Education part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
taber@iris.edu
John Taber, IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) has over 100 member research universities and institutions dedicated to monitoring ...

Comprehensive Earthquake Monitoring Assignment to Address Earth Science Literacy part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
Pete Berquist, Thomas Nelson Community College
Most students enrolled in my geology courses may never take a science class ever again, yet I find it likely that the will discuss a scientific topic at some point in their life. Therefore, I feel very strongly that students gain experience communicating moderately technical information to a variety of audiences. One challenge with my courses is that it is not until the latter third of the semester that we focus on more charismatic aspects of geological carnage and processes more obviously related to everyday life beyond igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. In response to maintaining students' interest and understanding of fundamental geologic principles and their broader implications to Earth processes, I've created an earthquake monitoring project that lasts for several weeks and culminates with a final paper. By the time the assignment is delivered, students have learned about minerals, rock forming processes (including the three major rock types) and Plate Tectonics, and they are starting to delve into learning about earthquakes. This project requires students' interpretations to be built upon the information covered earlier in the semester, to compile information regularly from the United States Geological Survey, and to practice communicating technical information to a range of audiences.

Collaboration through Coordinated Studies Courses part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
Robert Filson, Green River Community College
Many two-year college (2yc) geoscientists constitute a single-person department within a larger division of other science, math, or engineering colleagues. For many years I was the only geoscientist at Green River Community College (GRCC). We now have two full-time geoscience instructors and three adjunct instructors, but I have found that teaching with colleagues from other departments has been very rewarding and interesting.

Getting Them To Love Rocks part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
JoAnn Thissen, Nassau Community College
One of the best ways to promote earth science literacy is to immerse students in their learning, to put them in situations where they must learn, not just the concepts, but also the language of science and the process of science. I teach two standard lecture/lab courses and one field course. None of these courses have prerequisites but students have previous learning as part of their Earth Science Regents level courses taught in New York State junior or senior high schools. When they come into my classes they have already been exposed to the language of science but have no real idea what it really means. They just wanted to pass the Regents exam so they could graduate. Now they're challenged to use this previous learning to apply it and become active participants in their learning. Now they are challenged to see the world they live in.

Increasing Earth Science Literacy through Increased Awareness and Relevancy part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
Lynsey LeMay, Thomas Nelson Community College
An earth science class in high school is often the last time students have had any geoscience experience prior to taking an introductory physical geology class at a two-year college. Because of the age diversity at a community college, that last earth science experience can sometimes have been over ten years ago. As a result, in my experience, many students do not recall basic earth science topics, including how earth science impacts their daily lives. Whether preparing future geology majors, or simply promoting earth science literacy, making earth science relevant to students is something that I believe has a lasting impact on all students.

Creating your own Community part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
Kaatje Kraft, Mesa Community College
A common issue for geoscience faculty at two-year colleges is that of isolation. I have found several strategies that have been helpful for me in addressing this issue. The added benefit has resulted in opportunities to advocate for geosciences at the community colleges and students enrolled in our classes.

Faculty-Librarian Collaborations part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
Karen Berquist, College of William and Mary
What's a librarian doing at a 2yc Geoscience Workshop? Unlike you, I don't grade hundreds of pages every semester; don't hustle to prep for six or more lectures a week, and don't navigate daily challenges from administration and students. I am a geoscience educator in the broadest sense of the term. You might also call me an 'embedded librarian' in the science departments of a 4yc. There I collaborate with faculty, students, and other librarians to support their teaching and learning. Years ago that job was very collection-oriented. Now we focus on instruction and resources. Collaboration is the keyword. Just this week, the American College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Research Planning and Review Committee listed collaboration as one of the Top Ten trends in academic libraries. (June 2010 College & Research Libraries News vol. 71no. 6286)

Increasing Participation in the Geosciences at El Paso Community College part of Geoscience in Two-year Colleges:Essays
Joshua Villalobos, El Paso Community College
Community Colleges currently serve 44% of all undergraduate students and 45% of all of all first time freshmen in the US1. The combined low cost and flexibility of community colleges has also meant that they accommodate a large percentage of minorities entering higher education. Hispanics now constitute 15% of the general population and 19% of college population in the US1. This increase has led to more Institutions being designated HSI (Hispanic Serving Institutions) by the federal government, where at least 25 percent of the full-time-equivalent students are Latino.

Examinations of Time part of Workshop 2012:Essays
Kevin Mullins, Coconino County Community College
Kevin Mullins, Science Department, Coconino Community College I teach several geology classes, a Natural Disasters class and a Planetary Science class as well at a small community college with a diverse student ...

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 ...

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 ...

Why do we teach geoscience to non-majors? part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Essays
Kaatje Kraft, Mesa 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 ...


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