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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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Creating lab tracks to accommodate diverse student populations in introductory laboratory classes part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Jacquelyn Hams, Los Angeles Valley College
This essay will focus on the efforts to improve student success in geology laboratory courses at Los Angeles Valley College, a diverse 2YC located in greater Los Angeles. The lab classes have traditionally used lab manuals and field trips as the primary methods of instruction.

Coyote in the classroom part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Ethan Reese-Whiting, Illinois River Watershed Program
My instructional approach has evolved to focus on active and inquiry-based learning as a means of exploring concepts in the general geology classroom. This has grown out of my involvement with the Eight Shields model of the learning journey and art of mentoring as described in "Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Evan McGown. While I am still in the early stages of adapting this model to the traditional classroom setting, I believe its approach has value in the general geology classroom as a means of pulling at students' edges of understanding and inspiring their curiosity rather than pushing them toward specific goalposts via the traditional lecture model. The application of this approach also forces me to discern between the material that is "need to know" versus that which is "nice to know." This helps provide focus in the classroom and reduces the chances to overwhelm students with minutiae they can easily find in the textbook.

Geology: The Foundation of Everyday Life part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
Rob Rohrbaugh, El Paso Community College
Over the past five years I have been a geology instructor for college and high school students in the border town of El Paso, Texas. El Paso also consists of one of the largest military installations in the country. These demographic factors create a very diverse student population, both culturally and socio-economically. Coupled with the student demographic, El Paso also consists of some of the most ideal geological exposures in the country. My geologic study at the University of Texas El Paso provided immense local knowledge of the regional geologic setting, which has become my trademark as a field oriented instructor.

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.

Accepting the Challenge part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
JoAnn Thissen, Nassau Community College Download this essay (Acrobat (PDF) 13kB Jun14 13) Because our department does not offer any type of program in the geosciences it's up to each faculty member to ...

Zooming Out – A Dean's Perspective on Geoscience Student Success part of SAGE 2YC:Supporting Student Success:Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges:Essays
David Douglass, Pasadena City College
Seven years ago I transitioned to a new role as Dean of the Natural Sciences Division after 20 years of teaching in a four–person Geology department. About 3 years into this new gig I read the paper "How Geoscientists Think and Learn"(Kastens et. al, EOS Trans. AGU, 90(31), 265) which caused me to reflect on why I was actually enjoying what I do and was having some success at it. Qualities of geoscientists such as having a broad perspective of time, understanding and appreciating the workings of complex dynamic systems, a sense of space, the adaptability and flexibility that comes from field work, and the sense of being part of a community of practice all have served me well in this new role. Currently I have the privilege of working with about 50 full-time faculty, 75 adjunct faculty, 10 classified personnel and over 6,000 students each term in a variety of disciplines from Biotechnology and Kinesiology to Geology and Physics.

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.

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.

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.

2YC / 4YC Collaboration to Bring Geospatial Technology to a Rural Region part of SAGE 2YC:Workforce, Transfer, and Careers:Preparing Students in Two-year Colleges for Careers:Essays
Tora Johnson, University of Maine at Machias
I teach geospatial technology (GST) in two two-year programs shared between the University of Maine at Machias and Washington County Community College, both in beautiful and remote Downeast Maine. The Associate of Science program is administered by WCCC and the certificate program is administered by UMM; all courses are taught by UMM faculty.

Developing meaningful and manageable research opportunities for community college students: lessons learned from semester #1 part of SAGE 2YC:Workforce, Transfer, and Careers:Preparing Students in Two-year Colleges for Careers:Essays
Becca Walker, Mt. San Antonio College
Each semester, there are a handful of students in the science building every day working at the tables outside of the classrooms, dropping by office hours with hand samples, and asking questions after class related to, but beyond the scope of, the topic covered that day. They are the "repeat offenders" who have taken several courses in the department and are hungry for more. But when I say "more", I don't mean yet another rock identification lab or plate tectonics lecture...

Education to dispel the misconception that Cape Cod is a big homogenous sandbox part of SAGE 2YC:Workforce, Transfer, and Careers:Preparing Students in Two-year Colleges for Careers:Essays
Catherine Etter, Cape Cod Community College
Cape Cod Community College offers an A.A. with matriculation agreements for a seamless transfer to 4 year institutions, a technical A.S. in Environmental Technology, and a selection of environmental certificates. Our educational packages support a diverse group of learners from adult students (15 years and up) with no science background to professional scientists/engineers with years of education and work experience...

VoiceThread for On-line Courses part of SAGE 2YC:Workforce, Transfer, and Careers:Preparing Students in Two-year Colleges for Careers:Essays
Bob Ford, Frederick Community College
I wish I could write a concise, but elaborate statement describing all the wonderful things we are doing to prepare our students to be successful in geoscience degree programs and careers, but I cannot. We are a small to moderate sized school. Most of the students taking our science courses are non-science majors satisfying general education requirements or students trying to get into one of our allied health programs...


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