Assessment in Paradise: Using Data to Drive Undergraduate Geoscience Initiatives and Programmatic Changes

Wednesday 4:30pm-5:45pm Student Union: Ballroom B
Poster Session Part of Wednesday Session


Michael Guidry, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Tiffany Tsang, University of Hawaii at Hilo
For many students in Hawai'i, higher education begins in the University of Hawaii's Community Colleges (UHCC) with these students eventually transferring to a four-year university after receiving an Associate's degree. The UH System is comprised of seven CCs and three four-year institutions on four separate islands and about a quarter of all enrolled students are Native Hawaiian. At the system's flagship campus, the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM), the undergraduate environmental and geoscience programs [Atmospheric Sciences, Geology and Geophysics, and Global Environmental Science - (GES)] are within the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST). GES is the only UHM undergraduate major that has an undergraduate research thesis as a degree requirement, which adds to an already demanding curriculum (e.g., four semesters of calculus). By analyzing 2009 to 2016 GES programmatic data, it was determined that additional support is needed for the following: (1) retaining students in their first year of the GES program; (2) a geoscience pathway from the local UHCCs to UHM; (3) a process to increase recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of geoscience majors in general and Native Hawaiians in particular; and (4) getting students into undergraduate research as quickly as possible. A five-year, multi-institutional NSF TCUP-PAGE grant was secured to aid addressing the aforementioned issues. We will present initial results from an ongoing multifaceted approach to institute the following: curricular changes; geoscience pathways from UHCCs to UHM; summer geoscience research program; an early-alert, student performance monitoring system and dashboard; and a new program to facilitate student placement in faculty-mentored research efforts. Through this work, we intend to continue to track student advancement through GES to ensure efficient and effective progress, consider UHM-wide adoption of the early-alert system, and monitor how quickly students engage in research upon arrival at UHM.