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Perspectives on Supporting Student Success

This collection of essays was shared by participants in the 2013 workshop Supporting Student Success in Geoscience at Two-year Colleges, describing what activities they are currently employing to support geoscience student success in two-year colleges.


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I Will Try (Almost) Anything Once!!!
Melvin Arthur Johnson, University of Wisconsin Baraboo/Sauk County
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.

Preparing Our Workforce Initiative: Preparing Students at 2-Year Colleges for Geoscience Careers
Heather Houlton, AGI
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
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.

Student Response Devices and Online Homework to Support Geoscience Student Success in Traditional Lectures, Distance Learning and Online
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).

Teaching Geoscience to Non-Science Majors: Using real-world examples and lecture worksheets
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 ...

Coyote in the classroom
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
Rob Rohrbaugh, American Geophysical Union
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.

Writing research-supported learning material for introductory geosciences
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
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.

Real-World Motivation
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.

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