Engaging and retaining students in the geosciences at two-year colleges (2YC) through undergraduate research

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


Kusali Gamage, Austin Community College
Hugh Daigle, The University of Texas at Austin
Chammi Miller, The University of Texas at Austin
Though research has been recognized as a high impact, inquiry-based practice to engage and retain undergraduate students, it is largely underutilized in the first two years of instruction. At two-year colleges in particular, students have even fewer opportunities to participate in authentic research projects. The Austin Community College (ACC) project includes the development and implementation of a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience Course (SUREC) that engages students in research focused on scientific ocean drilling in their first two years of higher education. Through a partnership with the University of Texas at Austin, the SUREC program is open to students in their second year of study. ACC students will conduct research at a laboratory in the department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering (UT PGE). The research experience will begin with guided scientific ocean drilling investigations supported by class explanation, group meetings and related scientific reading assignments. As students identify research topics, lab equipment and procedures, student teams will research more independently. Students will present their research at the UT PGE poster symposium and at the American Geophysical Union's virtual poster session. All students participating in the SUREC program will receive training and education in STEM, which will increase their interest in STEM fields, improve their self-identification as STEM students, and provide a solid foundation for further participation in geoscience careers or other STEM disciplines. By recruiting participants from the ACC student body, the project will also increase participation of students from underrepresented groups. Through collaboration with a four-year college and a focus on enhancing students' interest in science education in the first two years, this project has the potential to transform the way first-year courses are structured at ACC and other undergraduate institutions.