Teaching for Diversity and Recruitment Strategies

Wednesday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms
Poster Session

Session Chairs

Aisha Morris, National Science Foundation
John McDaris, Carleton College
Place-Based and Culturally Valid Geoscience Curriculum and Assessment Development
Steven Semken, Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus
Emily Geraghty Ward, Rocky Mountain College
Julie Libarkin, Michigan State University

Show Abstract »

Place-based (PB) methods of teaching geoscience leverage sense of place (meanings and attachments affixed to places) of students and instructors, as they are situated in surrounding environments and landscapes, infuse local and indigenous ways of knowing, and engage with regional and local issues bearing on environmental and cultural sustainability. There is increasing research interest in this approach, and some studies have shown that PB teaching fosters greater participation in geoscience studies and careers by underrepresented indigenous students, while also appealing to mainstream students. We present a survey of research on PB teaching and a set of practices for PB curriculum design. Authentic assessment closes the circle on effective PB teaching. One can measure changes in sense of place as a learning outcome using valid psychometric surveys. Assessment of geoscience content learning presents a different problem. If valid published instruments are used for this purpose, cultural discordance is possible, as these assessments are usually written by educators and scientists from mainstream cultural perspectives. Such instruments may contain concepts or language that are unfamiliar, confusing, contradictory, or even offensive to students from different cultural traditions, such as Native Americans. Cultural discordance can compromise the validity of such instruments to assess learning in such student groups. Cultural validation is a research-based and tested method that minimizes the cultural discordance of assessment instruments while retaining other forms of validity and following best practices for assessment design. We demonstrate a cultural validation method that we have successfully used to produce culturally informed and richly PB versions of items from the Geoscience Concept Inventory and other instruments. The process incorporates systematic review and recommendations from cultural experts and culturally knowledgeable students in a collaborative, iterative process of item revision. The result is a set of assessment items that retain content validity while maximizing cultural validity.
Curriculum & Student Assessment; Routes to Recruitment
William Hoyt, University of Northern Colorado
Graham Baird, University of Northern Colorado
Joe Elkins, Bowling Green State University-Main Campus
Steven Anderson, University of Northern Colorado
Cindy Shellito, University of Northern Colorado
Byron Straw, University of Northern Colorado
Emmett Evanoff, University of Northern Colorado

Show Abstract »

After two years working in the Assessment Leadership Institute (ALI) at the University of Northern Colorado, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences faculty crafted student learning outcomes based on mission/vision. Faculty in Geology and Meteorology crafted assessment measures for both science content/skills and professional skills that were piloted in the 2014-15 academic year. In the ensuing year considerable work needs to be done in the curriculum revitalization and student assessment of the Environmental Earth Science track. Recruiting geoscience students into attractive and vibrant programs, especially those from underrepresented groups, is a strong need; we have capacity for new majors and minors and a very strong job market in Colorado that should attract students. But we need to continue to clearly articulate to students, parents, and employers exactly what we expect our graduates to know and be able to do upon graduation. No longer is it sufficient to offer an excellent undergraduate bachelor of science degree in geosciences--we need to explain in some detail BOTH what students know and are able to do (science content knowledge)AND how students are able to represent their knowledge in the workplace (professional skills). Toward that end, we developed a matrix of every significant science content domain, scientific and analytical skill set, and professional workplace skill PLOTTED AGAINST each course in our set of curriculum offerings in geology and environmental sciences. Instructors of each course scored the levels of treatment for each content area, scientific skill, and professional skill using the following scale: 1=Introduction to Skill; 2=Reinforcement of Skill; and 3=Mastery of Skill. Using that technique, we see where we are strong and where we need to scaffold skills more extensively. Preliminary data analysis of student learning outcomes assessed during 2014-15 show that communication of scientific mechanisms and processes was not as strong as needed.
The StratEGIC Toolkit: Strategies to Support Gender Equity in Geoscience Faculties
Sandra Laursen, University of Colorado at Boulder
Ann Austin, Michigan State University

Show Abstract »

The percentage of women earning geoscience degrees has increased in recent decades, but women's representation in geoscience faculty positions still lags well behind degree completion. Increasing women's representation and involvement in academic science requires system-wide efforts to identify and remove organizational constraints that lead to gendered biases in institutional policies and processes. The National Science Foundation's ADVANCE program represents a formal shift from viewing women's underrepresentation as a problem of women--"fitting women in" to existing structures and enhancing their professional competitiveness-- to recognizing that organizational structures and advancement criteria in the academy are optimized for traditional male career patterns. The StratEGIC Toolkit, Strategies for Effecting Gender Equity and Institutional Change (www.strategicToolkit.org), is a research-based, online toolkit intended to guide organizational leaders in developing these system-wide efforts. Through a five-year study, our research team studied approaches to organizational change taken by pioneering ADVANCE grantees, asking: What strategies have been used to create institutional environments that encourage the success of women scholars? Which strategies work, which don't, and why? And what strategies should thus be included in a change plan? From the study findings, we identify 13 types of interventions often used to change university structures, practices, and cultures. Each is described in a "Strategic Intervention Brief" that enumerates various intervention designs and their strengths and limitations. In addition, over a dozen "Institutional Portfolios" provide specific institutional examples of how these interventions have been combined into comprehensive change initiatives. Organizational leaders can use the Toolkit to strategically select and adapt interventions to their own settings. Some interventions can be implemented in departments and colleges; others operate best at an institutional level; many apply to non-academic organizations as well. Collectively, the StratEGIC interventions reach multiple levels of an institution and offer multiple levers for effecting change within university systems, structures and climates.
Implementation of InTeGrate Modules in the El Paso Higher Education Community
Diane Doser, University of Texas at El Paso
Joshua Villalobos, El Paso Community College
Adriana Perez, University of Texas at El Paso

Show Abstract »

We have tested InTeGrate (Interdisciplinary Teaching about Earth for a Sustainable Future) modules on climate change, earth materials and freshwater in introductory geology and environmental science courses taught at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and El Paso Community College (EPCC) (classes of 10 to 220 students) and in upper division geology courses at UTEP. Our initial results suggest that the modules' use of case studies and analysis of authentic data sets is appealing to our student body (over 70% Hispanic). Since many students do not speak English at home, modules containing glossaries and extensive background material (such as figures and concept maps) proved helpful to these students. The use of pre-activity quizzes insured that the students had mastered basic concepts needed for the in-class activities. Modifications required for teaching these modules in larger classes included condensing materials to save on printing costs, streamlining dissemination/collection of assignments, and adapting activities such as jigsaws and gallery walks to the confines of a large lecture hall with fixed seating. Student reflections indicated they were able to make connections to societal issues and retain these ideas through the end of the course.
InTeGrate Module Implementation at Stanford University: Postdocs and Grad Students Teaching at Minority Serving Institutions and Two Year Colleges
Angelina Sanderson Bellamy, Stanford University

Show Abstract »

In its first year of implementation, the InTeGrate Program at Stanford looks to further undergraduate student exposure to environmental science and sustainability curriculum, while enabling our postdocs and advanced graduate students to teach a two week environmental science module at targeted minority serving institutions (MSIs) or two year colleges (2YCs). This pilot program provides teaching and professional development to postdoctoral and advanced graduate students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to teach, or teach at MSI/2YCs while enrolled or working at Stanford. The program also strengthens collaborative associations between MSI/2YCs and the Stanford School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, aiding in a larger goal of diversifying and retaining minorities in geoscience at the graduate level and the professoriate. A key process in implementing the InTeGrate program at Stanford is establishing and building relationships with departments and faculty mentors from the different partnering institutions; with postdocs/grad students at Stanford; between postdocs/grad students and their faculty mentors; and between postdoc/ grad students and the undergraduate students they teach. Key determinants of effective partnering include identifying a dedicated program director to initiate these relationships through in-person planning meetings, pedagogy training of postdocs and grad students, and ensuring evaluation and feedback to measure student impact and postdoc/grad student/faculty learning and satisfaction. These actions, along with clear communication regarding expectations, facilitate a strong sense of partnership and trust that enable enthusiastic collaboration on the part of faculty and postdoc/grad student participants. In 2015 we arranged for five postdocs/grad students to teach in different classroom settings at four MSI/2YCs. Here we summarize and discuss the sequence of steps to implement these partnerships and the results from the first year.
Promoting analytical thinking: Techniques for student success in an HSI environment
Bree McClenning-Gonzalez, Texas A & M University-Kingsville

Show Abstract »

Imagine trying to teach science in an environment where education takes a backseat to all other aspects of a student's life. Family and social activities tend to take priority over obtaining an education for the majority of students at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, which is located 40 miles from the Gulf Coast in South Texas. There are 7,730 students enrolled at this Hispanic serving institution, with greater than 60% of the student population being Hispanic. Most incoming students are underprepared for college, especially in the areas of science and mathematics, with an average SAT score of 1330 and ACT score of 19.4, below the 2013 national averages of 1498 and 20.9, respectively. Challenges faced by many faculty include: engaging student curiosity, motivating self-study, and fostering critical thinking and analytical skills. Independent of and in addition to institutional objectives, my personal course goals are to help students build lifelong learning skills, engage students during lecture, and help students develop critical thinking skills. Methods to adopt these goals include: incorporating demonstrations, hands-on activities, in-class discussions, emphasizing the relationship between course material and daily life, and mini-lessons given by students. Each semester offers new challenges because each class has a different character, though some techniques are universal for most courses. Classroom enhancements that work particularly well are using students to demonstrate lava viscosity relative to silica content, modeling rock deformation using Play-doh and Silly Putty, and allowing students to design and present mini-lessons on course topics. These techniques work to enhance student learning as demonstrated anecdotally through students explaining the world around them to their family and friends, students recommending courses to their friends, and positive feedback from students. Future plans include developing more demonstrations, assigning students in all courses to present mini-lessons, and decreasing the amount of PowerPoint used.