An Elicitation Study of Introductory Geoscience Student Beliefs About Continuing in the Discipline

Monday 2:15pm TSU - Humphries: 203

Authors

Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Danielle Jackson, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Kevin Hurler, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Jaquan High, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Introductory classes play a critical role for the geosciences, serving as a way to train future citizen scientists and recruit majors who may have previously not seriously considered a geoscience major. Students enroll in introductory geoscience courses for a variety of reasons, including a prior interest in geology or the environment, meeting general education requirements, and perceptions of whether the course is easy (Levine, 2007; Hoisch & Bowie, 2010; Houlton, 2010; Gilbert et al., 2012; LaDue & Pacheco, 2013; Stokes et al., 2015). That interest and motivation is enough to get them to us; what helps keep them with us? This question may be examined using multiple lenses (e.g. the social cognitive career theory, as used by Sexton et al., 2018). Here, we use the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1985) to guide an elicitation study of student beliefs about taking a geology course and continuing on in the discipline. The specific behavior we are interested in is signing up for a second geoscience course before completing their degree. The initial population of interest is students in introductory geology courses at the University of South Carolina. These include physical and environmental geology courses that recruit approximately 750-800 students each semester. An open ended survey was used to identify salient and accessible student beliefs about taking a second course, what people who are important to them believe they should do, and their perceived behavioral control in taking another course. These three factors inform intent, which in turn informs behavior (Madden, Ellen and Ajzen, 1992). An inductive content analysis of the survey responses is used to identify patterns in the data (Elo and Kyngas, 2008). The results of this elicitation study are being used to inform the development of a quantitative questionnaire.