A Joint 2YC-4YC Research Methods Course to Increase Transfers and Improve Success
Faculty at the Community College of Rhode Island and the University of Rhode Island developed a geoscience research methods course targeted at students who have completed one introductory geology course. This course is open to both 2YC and 4YC students and is co-taught by faculty at each institution. The course guides students through the research process, where students learn, practice, and apply skills essential to success in the field of geosciences. For the first half of the semester, students learn in a hands-on way about different aspects of scientific research. They are guided through different steps, such as determining a hypothesis, collecting data, analyzing data, and communicating science, using group research projects as a key teaching tool. In the second half of the semester, students apply what they have learned about the research process to ask and answer their own scientific question using data they collect, culminating in a presentation at the end of the semester. A key component of the evaluation is weekly self-reports by students about their interest, confidence, and motivation to become a geoscience major. Students also write reflections every week about their reaction to the research process. These frequent responses give fine-scale insights about specific aspects of the course that affect whether or not the students become or remain geoscience majors. The development of this course is part of a larger suite of activities designed to improve transfer and increase the number of geoscience majors through a GEOPATHS grant. In this presentation, we present emerging trends in student interest, confidence, and motivation to be geologists based on self-reported survey data and reflection statements.