Oral Session IV: Improving Programs and Broadening Participation in Geoscience Education

Wednesday 12-2:30pm PT / 1-3:30pm MT / 2-4:30pm CT / 3-5:30pm ET Online

Session Chairs

Claire McKinley, University of California-Davis
Alexandra Snell, Texas A & M University

Schedule

12:05 PT / 1:05 MT / 2:05 CT / 3:05 ET
Moving the Needle by Expanding HBCU Pathways for Geoscience Education
Reginald Archer, Tennessee State University
Edith G. Davis, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
Sue Ebanks, Savannah State University

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Whether one uses the language of the sub-fields or that of the overarching field, there has been a consistent theme over the past 40-plus years. The gross under-representation of African Americans in the Geosciences, despite years of recruitment efforts into these fields, clearly indicates a need to reassess the approach. Further, there needs to be an examination of the best practices, or at least reoccurring themes, for those institutions of higher learning that are producing the bulk of the African American Geoscientists: the HBCUs. Secondly, there needs to be an evaluation of the first on-ramp to the pathway for the Geosciences: middle-grades teacher preparation. The purpose of this 3-year, NSF-funded project was to deliver a strategic, multi-dimensional, scalable instrument to 1) positively impact middle school teacher preparation curricula and professional development activities and 2) improve minority access to the geosciences. In this presentation, we will describe the development and initial deployment of the instrument at 3 unique HBCUs and present major findings from the preliminary data as well as describe the planned next steps, which include meaningful collaborative research at the intersection of the Sciences with K12 educators and the broader community.
12:20 PT / 1:20 MT / 2:20 CT / 3:20 ET
Systematic evaluation of culturally responsive schooling and anti-racism frameworks in geoscience education programs for American Indian and Alaska Native students
Claire McKinley, University of California-Davis
Max Showalter, University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Thomas Crofoot, Eastern Washington University

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As the geoscience community continues to address centuries of harm to, and erasure of Indigenous communities done by scientists, educators in K-12 and higher education have new interest in "decolonizing" their curriculum, increasing their broader impact portfolios, and reaching out to indigenous communities in their area. Recruiting American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) students into the geosciences is also a priority. However, to recruit, and more importantly retain AIAN students, curriculum-builders and educators need guidelines about how to approach and evaluate educational programs that are either designed for AIAN students or use Indigenous knowledge or epistemologies. Specifically needed are culturally responsive programs that explicitly center AIAN epistemology, sovereignty, identity and address the racism students encounter. We present a systematic review of publications about AIAN educational initiatives with the goal of identifying areas which need improvement or further research. Our evaluation examines the implementation of the program, its approach (i.e. if the program used AIAN ways of learning and knowing, or taught AIAN concepts in a western education framework) and if or how the program was evaluated. In building this review, we hope to highlight recommendations for future initiatives. Preliminarily, recent initiatives, especially those lead by AIAIN scientists and faculty, avoid potential pitfalls which lead well-meaning researchers and educators to do harm. Pitfalls include challenges in working with tribal communities, historic distrust of outside researchers, concerns about appropriation, and who has access to or is given knowledge. However, most initiatives do not mention or have policies that address the racism or bias that students may encounter.
12:35 PT / 1:35 MT / 2:35 CT / 3:35 ET
The Geological Tactile Image Repository: A Digital Resource Collection to Support Instructors of Blind and Low-Vision Geoscience Students
Kent Ratajeski, University of Kentucky
P. Jack Reed, Stanford University
Sydney L. Clark, Kentucky Department of Public Health
Donna Lee, University of Kentucky
Christopher Atchison, University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

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To support instructors of Blind and low-vision students and to make the visual component of geoscience more accessible to all students regardless of ability, we have developed a online repository of tactile images suitable for high-school Earth science and college-level introductory geoscience instruction. The repository is housed on the website of the International Association for Geoscience Diversity (IAGD) and can be freely accessed at https://tactileimages.theiagd.org/. Funding for the repository was provided by the American Geophysical Union.The repository includes more than 82 black-and-white vector graphics suitable for printing on heat-sensitive microcapsule paper with a Harpo "Pictures in a Flash" (PIAF) printer. The graphics in the collection include a variety of diagrams, graphs, maps, and geologic cross-sections chosen to represent commonly taught topics and themes within introductory geoscience courses (e.g., minerals, rocks, volcanoes, Earth's interior, geologic structures, regional geology, plate tectonics, glaciers, coasts, mass wasting, soils, geochronology, and climate change). The images were designed using principles of tactile graphic design, annotated and labeled with Grade 2 (contractional) Swell Braille font, edited by 14 graduate students in the Teacher Preparation Program in Visual Impairments at the University of Kentucky's School of Education, and tested by two blind users. The graphics are tagged for discovery by search term and are available in both PDF and PowerPoint format to allow for immediate use or modification by instructors. In addition to highlighting the resources on the website, best practices for designing tactile graphics for the PIAF will also be discussed during this talk. Persons interested in contributing additional graphics to the collection are encouraged to contact the IAGD for more information.
12:50 PT / 1:50 MT / 2:50 CT / 3:50 ET
Undergraduate research, university outreach, career training, and near-peer mentoring at Salt Lake Community College
Christopher Johnson, Salt Lake Community College

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Recruiting diverse students from community colleges is an underutilized way to increase diversity and participation in four-year geoscience programs. Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) partnered with local four-year institutions to increase completion, diversity, and transfer rates of geology majors at SLCC. The NSF-funded project supported geology majors in authentic undergraduate research at the community college campus with projects on environmental sampling and GIS mapping. In addition, students received mentoring from a near-peer recent graduate, community college and university faculty, and engaged in activities to build their geoscientist identity such as university outreach (departmental tours, lab tours, and technical talks), university faculty advisory board meetings, professional association luncheons, and career talks with professional geologists. The 30 participants were 57% female and 30% from underrepresented groups. Pre- (n=29) and post-surveys (n=25) show that 88% of students were more motivated to finish their degree and transfer after participating. Students identified the most motivating activities to be career talks with professional geologists (88%); original research projects (85%); university tours and outreach, and professional society meetings (81%); equipment and diversity training (85%); and faculty advisory board meetings (81%). 83% of participants have transferred or plan transfer, which exceeds the geology major average of 67%. 77% of underrepresented participants have or plan to transfer by fall 2021. Due to low sample sizes and students still finishing their degrees, it is unclear if the project increased completion rates and diversity in the overall program. However, the high transfer rates of participants suggest that authentic undergraduate research at community colleges, university outreach, and connections to professional geologists can increase transfers and diversity of geology students at four-year institutions.
1:05 PT / 2:05 MT / 3:05 CT / 4:05 ET
Break

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15-minute break.
1:20 PT / 2:20 MT / 3:20 CT / 4:20 ET
Utilizing Backwards Design to create a Blended, Multicontext learning framework in a field-based Geoscience course
Alissa Kotowski, McGill University
Nicholas Soltis, University of Indianapolis
Evan Ramos, The University of Texas at Austin
Vanshan Wright, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Kathy Ellins, The University of Texas at Austin
Dana Thomas, The University of Texas at Austin

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GeoFORCE is an out-of-school-time high school program that strives to increase the number of minoritized students pursuing STEM and Geoscience by exposing students to Geoscience through week-long field-based courses. While >50% of GeoFORCE alumni are currently enrolled in STEM degrees, only ~10% are Geoscience majors. Recent work suggests that minoritized student interest in Geoscience increases if courses are taught in a culturally-situated and/or active learning framework; however, except for the 12th grade program, most GeoFORCE academies were historically taught using a traditional, lecture-based, quiz-and-test assessment approach. Here, we report our strategies for restructuring one 11th grade GeoFORCE academy in 2019 to incorporate blended, Multicontext (i.e., mixtures of low- and high-context) active learning, and assess differences in 40 minoritized students' engagement, interest, and perception of Geoscience as functions of learning style and context. We employed a 'slow release' approach, transitioning gradually from traditional, low-context learning–which students were accustomed to–towards more active, high-context learning throughout one Academy. We utilized Backwards Design to develop active learning modules. Instructors identified daily learning objectives, then designed hands-on "workshops" to build practical skills and content literacy. Students applied skills and synthesized knowledge in the field to solve geologic problems presented by the Instructors (i.e., "challenges") in teams and "think like geoscientists". After-activity surveys indicate similar "interest" in all activities, but workshops and team-oriented challenges were more "difficult" and "exciting" than lectures. Student descriptions of workshops and challenges incorporate active verbs that reflect a scientific process (e.g., compare, analyze, examine, conduct). In contrast, descriptions of traditional learning are passive (e.g., listen, learn, take notes). Pre- and post-course surveys reveal that the number of students planning to pursue STEM and Geoscience increased. We suggest that blended, Multicontext learning fosters an inclusive learning environment where diverse students can envision themselves as scientists, thus increasing interest in pursuing Geoscience.
1:35 PT / 2:35 MT / 3:35 CT / 4:35 ET
Assessing the Impact of Curriculum and Department Climate on Undergraduate Diversity, through Student Perceptions of Learning and Inclusion
Alexandra Snell, Texas A & M University
Julie Newman, Texas A & M University
David Sparks, Texas A & M University

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This study investigates the impacts of the Texas A&M Geology & Geophysics (G&G) department cultural climate (via perceptions of inclusion) and curriculum (via perceptions of learning) on undergraduate students. The goals of this study are to determine: 1. Relations (if any) between students' perceptions of learning and inclusion; 2. Evolution of students' perceptions of achieving learning outcomes and perception of inclusion within the department over their time within the department; 3. Relations between students perceptions of learning and inclusion with independent measures of student success (retention, graduation rate); 4. differences in student perceptions between underrepresented groups, and the causes of any differences. Students in the G&G program were surveyed at mid-career and at graduation. The survey responses were analyzed cumulatively and via four demographic categories: 1. gender identity, 2. racial identity, 3. transfer student vs. incoming Freshmen, and 4. first-generation college student vs. non-first-generation college student. Overall, survey responses indicate that students had generally positive feelings about the department. Of the 16 perception of learning and inclusion questions, 8 questions yielded results with differences in certain student demographic group's reported experiences. Most notably, 58% of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC students) responded in agreement or neutral to the statement "It is hard for people like me to feel accepted in the department" compared to 27% of their white peers. We found positive correlations between student perceptions of learning and perceptions of inclusion, but correlations differ when responses are broken down by racial and gender identities. Among students with the lowest perceptions of inclusion, the women with lower perceptions of inclusion seem to be very confident, while men tend to feel academically unsure of themselves. The positive correlation between perceptions of learning and inclusion is weakest among white men, who have a high perception on inclusion regardless of learning.
1:50 PT / 2:50 MT / 3:50 CT / 4:50 ET
Expectancy and Value as Drivers for Participation and Persistence in an Open-access Online Scientific Computing Training in Seismology
Michael Hubenthal, IRIS Co
Mike Brudzinski, Miami University-Oxford

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During the summer of 2020, the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), in collaboration with Miami university, offered a free, 3-month, certificate-granting online workshop. This workshop sought to increase undergraduates' knowledge, skills, self-efficacy, and interest in observational seismology and scientific computing. 760 advanced STEM undergraduates, representing 60 different countries registered to participate. The access provided by open workshops may broaden participation in seismology specifically and STEM more broadly as U.S. participants consisted of 59% women and 29% from populations traditionally underrepresented in geoscience. Performance data revealed 58% of registrants completed at least one assignment, 30% completed at least 80% of assignments, and 25% completed all assignments. The initiation rate, or percentage of registrants who complete the first assignment, and completion rate are both significantly higher than most comparable large-scale, open-access courses (e.g., MOOCs). However, these rates seem unnecessarily low and have some variability across populations (e.g. URM status, and academic major). To identify factors associated with persistence, registration and pre/post survey data are analyzed through the lens of the expectancy-value theory (EVT) and compared to initiation and completion rates. Results from preliminary analysis of initiation rates map well to most EVT constructs: intrinsic value factors (p<.001), utility value factors (p<.001), attainment value factors (p=.24), and expectancy factors (e.g., completion intentions for the workshop [p<.001], prior computing experience [p<.001], seismology research experience [p=.01], seismology self-efficacy [p=.84]). Participants who did not persist identified factors, or costs, which negatively impacted their persistence. We will use regression analysis to further probe the degree to which these factors influence persistence throughout the workshop and evaluate the explanatory value of EVT for advanced undergraduate performance in an online workshop focused on technical skill development. Results will also drive the development of interventions to enhance student persistence in future workshop iterations.
2:05 PT / 3:05 MT / 4:05 CT / 5:05 ET
Curricular and co-curricular influences on student sustainability motivations, beliefs, and behaviors
Lisa Gilbert, Cabrillo College
Hayden Gillooly, Williams College

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The InTeGrate (Interdisciplinary Teaching about Earth for a Sustainable Future) project created sustainability-focused modules for undergraduate courses. Pre and post-instruction surveys asked participating students about their environmental sustainability motivations, beliefs, and behaviors (ES-MBB). After a course with InteGrate materials, students reported increased motivations to work for sustainable organizations after graduation and to do work that allows them to use their environmental knowledge (motivations). Students also reported increased concerns about five anthropogenic global developments on Earth (beliefs). Additionally, students reported more frequent engagement with twelve sustainable behaviors. To explore the role of extracurricular and co-curricular influences on students' ES-MBB over time (e.g, from first year to graduation), we parsed the InTeGrate data by class year and by institution. Specifically, we categorized institutions according to whether they had a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) rating by AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Students from STARS and non-STARS institutions both demonstrate significant increases in their ES-MBB after taking a course with InTeGrate materials. The pre-instruction ES-MBB scores of first year students are not significantly different between STARS and non-STARS institutions. At STARS institutions, the pre-instruction ES-MBB increases with class year. At non-STARS institutions this is not the case, suggesting that there is something happening on STARS campuses that impacts student engagement with environmental sustainability. This produces a powerful combination: students who took courses with InTeGrate materials and spent three or more years at STARS institutions had the highest sustainability motivations, beliefs, and behaviors.