Wednesday Poster Session
Wednesday 4:30pm-5:45pm Recreation and Wellness Center Beacon Room
Attracting Students and Broadening Participation
Field notes from the geoscience classroom by the January 2022 NAGT Outstanding Teaching Assistants
Teaching assistants (TAs) provide an important source of connection for undergraduate students, helping them master content, become more confident as scientists, and develop a wide array of skills. NAGT annually recognizes outstanding TAs in geoscience education with its Outstanding TA Awards. January 2022 recipients of the Outstanding TA awards will share their lessons learned from the classroom and their most impactful teaching tips.
Broadening Participation through Disruption and Technology
Lisa Doner, Plymouth State University
Mary Earick, New Mexico Highlands University
Amy Villamagna, Plymouth State University
Eric Kelsey, Plymouth State University
Rachelle Lyons, Plymouth State University
Sarah Turtle, Plymouth State University
Tracey Lesser, New Hampshire Technical Institute
Ye Tao, Harvard University
From 2018-2022, Plymouth State University, a predominantly undergraduate institution with no geology program but strong B.S. and M.S. programs in meteorology and environmental science ran a GeoPaths EXTRA project "Engaging Students in the Geosciences Using a Lake Watershed Geosystems Path" aimed at building critical cognition and technical skills beneficial in geoscience careers. We recruited first year college students in cohorts of up to 10 students enrolled in Environmental Science and Meteorology majors and introduced them via field trips, mini-projects and workshops, invited speakers and internships to research design, monitoring instrumentation, and data analysis.Evaluated results reveal increased retention and academic success across the GeoPaths cohorts, and shifts in thinking from (1) local- to global-scale environmental concerns and applications (2) place-based to technology-enhanced perspectives on environmental studies and (3) a general desire to develop global networks of peer changemakers.COVID-19 forced the 2019-20 cohort to delay internships by a year or two, and student participants initially presented with disengagement and stress. We maintained weekly contact with group Zoom meetings, and adapted the GeoPaths program to take advantage of remote technology to increase our mentor diversity. These modifications, applied by the faculty in 'real time', emerged as impact themes in participant surveys and interviews.The disruption of the pandemic, and rapid implementation of remote meeting technologies created opportunity to develop a supplemental OPEN STEM project that added climate mitigation instrumentation, monitoring and education to the GeoPaths project. The next-generation of this project is a multi-institutional effort that brings together in-service teachers, K-12 educators, citizen scientists, and university and college students, and the local community in experimental implementation of a ground-based, low-cost climate mitigation project involving sensored mirror arrays. Direct learning outcomes include applied use of physics, geometry, surveying, programming, electronics and science communication.
Academic-Industry Career Events: Lessons Learned and Takeaways from a Successful DE&I Event
Matthew Pendleton, University of Waterloo Canada
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is becoming a centerpiece of many professional and academic organizations that are now positioning DE&I focused events in front of students. DE&I events are an important aspect to education and can change the trajectory of students through commonalities and discussions centered around academic and professional hurdles and success stories. I want to share a successful DE&I event that I co-organized at the University of California, Los Angeles. The purpose of my presentation is to share the event structure and to provide a case-example of how DE&I events can be incorporated into educational programs to aide student recruitment, empower student careers, to diffuse diversity into our work force, and enhance student interest in the applied geosciences. This DE&I event convened seven panelists from diverse ethnic, academic, and professional backgrounds and 16 students in March 2022. The half-day event was targeted at DE&I student groups (though not exclusively) and included panel discussions, group-focused interview exercises, and one-on-one mock interviews. Panel discussions included a moderated discussion, Q&A, and an open mic for students to share their journey through their education and seek answers to not-often-discussed questions about what careers are like outside of academia. The crown jewel of the event were mock interviews and group-focused interview exercises. These activities allowed one-on-one time with students and industry professionals, which according to one student, was "exactly what I was looking for and tremendously increased my understanding of the environmental industry." Events like this are career launchers! I want to present on the lessons learned and takeaways from this DE&I event that is being considered as a template for professional groups across California to branch the academic-industry gap and increase diversity in our workforce.
Program updates and successes from the AGU Bridge Program
Eva Kostyu, American Geophysical Union
Waverly Lau, American Geophysical Union
Pranoti M. Asher, Pranoti M. Asher
The AGU Bridge Program, now in its fourth year, continues to promote equity in geoscience graduate education by partnering with select academic departments and supporting graduate students from historically marginalized populations. The Bridge Program counts forty-six graduate departments as partners and continues to build a cohort of Bridge Fellows each year. As a member of IGEN (Inclusive Graduate Education Network), the AGU Bridge program co-hosts a student application with other scientific disciplinary societies allowing interested applicants to submit one application for consideration by multiple departments. Students gaining graduate admission through this application portal automatically become Bridge Fellows and engage with AGU and a network of peers throughout their graduate education. Simultaneously, AGU Bridge partner departments work continuously to weave equity best practices throughout their processes, from admission through graduation. This presentation will focus on sharing partner department best practices, Bridge Program student engagement methods, and program goals. Advice on how to get involved will be shared.
Supporting secondary students' understanding of Earth's climate system and global climate change using Easy Global Climate Modeling
Amanda Olsen, The University of Texas at Arlington
Silvia Jessica Mostacedo Marasovic, The University of Texas at Arlington
Cory Forbes, The University of Texas at Arlington
Science classrooms are uniquely positioned for teaching and learning about Earth's climate system and Global Climate Change (GCC), as well as how both are studied scientifically, particularly using technology-enabled modeling of big data. The Next Generation Science Standards underscore model-based and data-driven investigations of GCC, particularly at the secondary level. However, Earth science education is increasingly deemphasized in the K-12 curriculum, resulting in limited opportunities for teaching and learning about the Earth's climate system and GCC. To address this need, we have engaged in a long-term, NSF-funded project to investigate classroom use of Easy Global Climate Modeling (EzGCM), a web-based climate modeling suite designed for non-scientists using authentic NASA global climate data, which gives students opportunities to use EzGCM for engaging in scientific practices of climate science. This mixed-methods study is focused on the implementation of the curriculum module by two teachers in ten 9th-grade classrooms at one secondary school in a partner school district. We collected a diverse set of data in these classrooms, including: i) a pre- and post- assessment of students' content knowledge, ii) student interviews, and iii) students' module task artifacts. Quantitative analyses of student assessments of content knowledge, and qualitative analyses of students' interviews and tasks used helped explain students' performance and how EzGCM has supported students' conceptual and epistemic understanding of Earth's climate and GCC. The results show that students' conceptual understanding was similar across groups, and that it improved during the unit. Specifically, EzGCM helped students develop a more robust understanding of three primary climate-related themes: 1) temperature anomaly; 2) exponential growth; and 3) relationships between climate variables. While most students used the different visualizations available to support their claims, higher achieving students were able to more strongly link their evidence and claims to specific processes and products afforded by EzGCM.
Teaching Geoscience in a Changing Climate: it's hard to teach students who aren't in your class
Sharon Browning, Baylor University
Joe Yelderman Jr., Baylor University
Stacy Atchley, Baylor University
Wayne Hamilton, Baylor University
Societal views impact curriculum changes at all levels, and changes in K-12 curriculum can affect career choices. World events such as a pandemic, the price of petroleum products, and climate change also affect career choices. This presentation identifies challenges facing geoscience education and documents problems that indicate a need for changes in geoscience recruitment at the university level.Baylor University (BU) is addressing these challenges using informational recruitment strategies and curriculum changes. Geoscience classes are not required in many core curricula and geoscience is not on everyone's career radar like doctor, lawyer, or merchant chief (business). Therefore, there is a need to inform students about geoscience outside the classroom to encourage them to opt into a class. Examples of recruitment strategies include targeting undecided freshmen, working with admission and advising departments on talking points- including the development of class and departmental flyers, and partnering with community colleges and K-12 teachers. Although partnering with K-12 teachers has low direct returns (students enrolling at BU), it is an important long-term strategy that should benefit the larger geoscience community. Baylor faculty also developed changes to the geoscience curriculum to better represent geoscience subdisciplines that apply to a growing variety of careers. The new curriculum should also allow enrolled students who experience geoscience to change their major with fewer delays in graduation schedules.
SLATES: SERVICE-LEARNING FOR TWO-YEAR AND FOUR-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS IN THE EL PASO, TEXAS REGION (2017-2021)
Richard Langford, University of Texas at El Paso
Diane Doser, University of Texas at El Paso
Joshua Villalobos, El Paso Community College
Rob Rohrbaugh, El Paso Community College
The SLATES (Service Learning Activities Targeting the Earth Sciences) program is focused on expanding service learning opportunities for undergraduates at the Hispanic serving University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and El Paso Community College (EPCC) in the El Paso region. We developed short-term activities (<10 hrs/semester) to target students in introductory geoscience courses, as well as long-term (>10 hrs/semester) activities for majors to apply geoscience and environmental science outside the classroom. Short-term activities have included organizing local geology field trips for EPCC and UTEP students, family and friends, serving as tour guides for the El Paso Water Utilities' TecH2O outreach center, and developing lesson plans on El Paso's groundwater for 4th grade students. These activities involved ~1100 participants (students, friends, families) and ~1200 K-12 students between fall 2017 and spring 2020. Longer-term activities included volunteering with two state parks and other local non-profit agencies, tutoring UTEP geoscience majors, and involvement in K-12 outreach. Fifty-two students have participated in these longer-term activities between fall 2017 and spring 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic necessitated the cancellation of in-person activities between spring 2020 and summer 2022, students were able to continue some service-learning projects virtually. Virtual projects included developing hands-on video demonstrations of scientific concepts for K-12 educators, holding a virtual celebration of Earth Science Week, and creating educational brochures and field trip guides.
Best Practices in Curriculum and Program Design for Student Learning
The Food-Energy-Water Nexus: Using Hydroviz to Support Undergraduate Students' Learning about Complex Socio-Hydrologic Issues
Silvia Jessica Mostacedo Marasovic, The University of Texas at Arlington
Holly White, University of Maine
Cory Forbes, The University of Texas at Arlington
The Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus is a framework that foregrounds food, energy, and water security, while responding to increasing human and natural pressures brought about by population growth and economic development, as well as climate change. Decision-making around the FEW-Nexus occurs at varying levels, engaging multiple stakeholders from different disciplines. Students, particularly in undergraduate education, should learn about and develop skills to understand, analyze, and make effective, science-informed decisions about complex, real-world challenges in the FEW-Nexus. Within this context we developed, implemented, and analyzed the results of a comprehensive curriculum and its instructional resources to engage undergraduate students in case-based decision-making about the FEW Nexus using a data visualization tool called Hydroviz. The purpose of this study is to evaluate i) to what extent is a decision-making task supporting students' problem-solving outcomes about a FEW Nexus issue? and ii) what areas in the decision-making process were students able to engage in most-effectively? The study is based on a mixed-methods approach, where we analyzed the results from a four-part data analysis and structured decision-making task; pre-tests related to conceptual knowledge of water, the FEW Nexus, and decision making; and students' interviews from (N = 99) students. We used a non-parametric Friedman test to compare between each component of the decision-making task. To evaluate students' overall decision-making outcome, we used: i) ANOVA and t-tests to evaluate differences between academic years, programs, and gender, and ii) correlations with the pre-tests. Overall, results suggest that students may need additional support to frame the decision-making problem. Qualitative results indicate that students with higher scores were better able to contextualize using their results from the data analysis when defining the problem identification.
"This isn't working for me. Can we do it a different way?" The Lived Experiences of Geoscience Students with Learning Disabilities
Nina Morris, Western Michigan University
Heather Petcovic, Western Michigan University
The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study is to better understand the lived experiences of geoscience students with learning disabilities in their undergraduate and graduate classes. Students with learning disabilities bring a unique perspective while also facing unique challenges in post-secondary education. The literature currently reports limited information about what supports, technology, personal learning strategies, and teaching strategies are beneficial to this population. Understanding experiences of students with learning disabilities can encourage further diversity in the geosciences.Participants in this study included 4 undergraduate and 2 graduate geoscience students in the United States who identified as having a learning disability such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. This study identified formal accommodations and personal strategies students found useful in their course work as well as barriers that negatively impacted students. Barriers included students not knowing what accommodations or resources were available to support them in their geoscience classes. Personal strategies student's utilities included the use of technologies such as cell phones to make taking notes faster. Some students also stressed the importance of seeking out and having conversations with their professors about their strengths and weakness within a course. In the learning environment students appreciated when instructors were flexible with due date and allowed additional time to complete assignments or labs in order to understand the material.
Quantitative skills in courses for geoscience majors
Eric Baer, Highline Community College
Beth Pratt-Sitaula, EarthScope Consortium
Rory McFadden, Carleton College
Application of quantitative skills in geoscience courses is a source of frustration for many faculty and a significant barrier to students. One response is to remove quantitative content from geoscience courses. However, this non-solution is problematic for many reasons: it masks the data-rich, quantitative nature of geoscience, it deprives students of critical training needed in future careers and programs, and it reinforces the misconception that mathematical techniques are not needed or useful to geoscientists. Even where quantitative skills are used, students may find it difficult to apply mathematical techniques and skills in an Earth science context, having only practiced these skills in mathematics or statistics courses. Whereas incorporating quantitative skills into Earth science problems may enhance students' understanding of concepts. One difficulty in supporting faculty and their students may be the lack of communication about quantitative skills between geoscience disciplines. While some courses may use novel or unusual quantitative skills, many use the same skills such as basic statistical analysis, algebraic manipulation, and more. By communicating the importance of these skills and supporting students to see the connections across classes, we believe some of the frustrations that lead to the removal of quantitative skills may be reduced. In addition, repeated exposure to specific quantitative skills is an effective pedagogical approach.We invite you to give input, either through an online survey or at EER, indicating what quantitative skills you use or would like to see used in various geoscience majors' courses. We will use this information to identify opportunities to support quantitative skill development in geoscience undergraduates that are used across multiple courses.
Transdisciplinary Water Education: A View Across Standards for Teaching and Learning to Foster Water Literacy
Holly White, University of Maine
Silvia Jessica Mostacedo Marasovic, The University of Texas at Arlington
Brooke Colleen Mott, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Cory Forbes, The University of Texas at Arlington
Water is one of Earth's fundamental natural systems and is critical to sustain human existence. Water literacy is a key outcome for learners of all ages, who should understand how water interacts with both natural and human systems to engage in informed decision-making and support effective water management. This research aims to examine water-related standards for K-12 teaching and learning from an array of disciplines to develop a comprehensive and transdisciplinary perspective on water education. We ask, "What do disciplinary standards specify as outcomes for students' learning about water?" Our research questions are: i) "To what extent do water-related standards address recognized domains of learning?", and ii) "What thematic outcomes for students' learning are apparent across grades in water-related standards?". The study addresses both human and natural dimensions of water. We use chi-square statistics and a conventional qualitative content analysis complemented by processes from grounded theory to analyze water-related education standards (N=477) from 12 education-oriented, non-governmental organizations mostly based in the United States. First, standards emphasize the cognitive domain, including declarative and procedural knowledge for water-related concepts and skills. Although the affective domain and its social and emotional components are less prevalent, they are also key for students' learning to help support water management practices. Second, standards illustrate four sub-categories of natural dimensions of water, and nine sub-categories of human dimensions of water spanning K-12 grade bands. These results can help inform teaching and learning to cultivate water literacy, including curriculum development and classroom pedagogy.
Advancing Discovery of DEIJ-Related Resources
John McDaris, Carleton College
Sean Fox, Carleton College
The Compass project seeks to improve the discoverability of existing, high-quality Earth education resources by leveraging the technical infrastructure developed by the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College. One facet of this work is to bring greater visibility to themes of key importance to community. Our initial focus is to improve the discoverability of resources around diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in the geosciences. We have developed a new controlled vocabulary with terms that identify resources that can be used to attract, support, and prepare diverse students in the geosciences as well as terms focused on creating a just and equitable curriculum with benefits for all students. The vocabulary has been applied to existing materials in the collection, is available for projects to use going forward, and has been used to highlight these materials to SERC visitors through a variety of new mechanisms.
Thriving Pathways and Elements for Emerging Learners and Researchers
Mercy Achang, University of Delaware
Eliot Atekwana, University of California-Davis
Estella Atekwana, University of California-Davis
Mileva Radonjic, Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
eAtanga Mafor Magdalene
Producing new knowledge and inventions is an exciting journey that every researcher embarks upon and invests their time and energy into. However, emerging researchers and learners often lack scientific inquiry skills, particularly the skills to identify important research questions and design the responses starting from fundamental knowledge to progressively complex critical thinking. The objective of this review is to offer suggestions on how to close the learning deficiencies in scientific inquiry skills occasionally overlooked by some university faculty that impede budding researchers from effectively conducting research. Practical ways to formulate research objectives building from fundamental knowledge to advanced critical thinking skills have been suggested with the help of Bloom's taxonomy and applied to some tools used in geological research. Also, the scheme of intellectual and ethical development, reflective judgment model, and steps on better thinking have been briefly reviewed to present tools for the assessment of the researcher's learning progress. The suggested tools, data types, and objectives posed in this paper are not meant to be comprehensive but initiate a conversation in the interest of the incipient researchers and to stimulate their minds on designing and conducting research.
Community-informed improvements with the Compass project: Advancing Earth Education Resource Discovery
Kristin O'Connell, Carleton College
Ashley Carlson, Carleton College
Calli Thompson, Carleton College
Ellen Iverson, Carleton College
The Science Education Resource Center (SERC) website is BIG and has been growing for the last 20 years. SERC has worked in collaboration with over 250 projects resulting in 6,000+ teaching activities, 6,600+ authors and contributors, and 54,000+ pages of content. Visitors to the SERC-hosted websites may find it challenging to leverage these resources due to the sheer quantity and the distribution of materials across discrete project websites. Through the Compass project, we are engaging the community to help us understand how visitors currently navigate the site to aid in identifying potential areas of improvement and prioritizing changes. This process will ensure that the changes are of high use and result in more discoverable Earth Education resources where visitors spend less energy finding resources, leaving more time to spend with the content of those resources. In the first year of the project, we have: 1) reviewed past evaluation studies of SERC-hosted websites to understand what is already known about the site use and challenges, 2) conducted baseline walkthrough interviews to identify differences in navigation strategies for topics that are more and less familiar, and 3) launched a mini-survey to better understand the Earth Education community use and perception of the website. Findings through these studies have confirmed information (e.g. SERC-hosted resources are viewed as credible) and provided new and nuanced findings (e.g. nearly half of survey respondents report using SERC-hosted websites for resources related to diversity, equity, and inclusion) that help inform website improvements.As discovery improvements are implemented (https://serc.carleton.edu/compass/plan.html), the evaluation and research will continue to engage community members to test the usefulness of changes and inform iterations.
Comparing in-person and virtual modes of a 4-year museum-based geoscience outreach program
Graham Edwards, Dartmouth College
Gavin Piccione, University of California-Santa Cruz
Marisa Gomez, Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
We evaluate a 4-year (2018–2022) museum-based geoscience outreach program hosted by the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History and featuring geoscience PhD students. From 2018-2022, the program consisted of monthly pop-up events focused on rock identification and fundamental rock types. From 2020–2022, the program transitioned to a series of live videos, streamed via the Museum's website and social media, that focused on specific geoscience topics. The duration of this program and its overlap with shifting modes of audience contact during the COVID-19 pandemic provide an opportunity to evaluate long-term trends in attendance and quality of engagement through both in-person and virtual media. In-person pop-ups typically attracted 10-20 visitors per 2-hour event, including visitors in attendance specifically for rock identification. Unfortunately, attendance data was not routinely collected until 2019. However, the physical pop-up interactions were characterized by extended conversations that lasted at least several minutes. Virtual pop-ups were streamed weekly for four months, then shifted to monthly. Mean viewership for both weekly and monthly pop-ups was approximately 310 views per event, although this overestimates engagement as "views" are counted after only three seconds of viewing. We hosted 35 virtual pop-ups with a shallow negative trend in attendance over the two-year duration, with distinct peaks (up to 800 views) for specific topics, including climate change and local focus.Virtual events were characterized by an order of magnitude higher audience engagement. Although different attendance metrics complicate intercomparison, learning outcome comparisons are more straightforward. In-person events led to fewer, but higher quality interactions, while online events reached a larger audience. In-person engagement was participatory and interactive, typically lasting 3-10 minutes, whereas virtual engagement was passive and of poorly defined duration. We speculate that this lesser "quality control" of virtual outreach may have contributed to waning audience interest.
Demystifying Graduate School: Tapping the Alumni Resource
Katie O'Sullivan, California State University-Bakersfield
This project conducted a series of alumni panel discussion videos on various topics with the goal of demystifying graduate school to undergraduates. The inspiration for this project came from undergraduate student feedback received during the previous year. Feedback indicated undergraduates were experiencing an increasing amount of confusion and concern regarding graduate school. Therefore, in Spring 2022, alumni panel discussions were held on Zoom with 3-4 alumni making up each panel. Each panel discussion centered on a specific topic, and questions were asked by the moderator and undergraduate audience. Panel discussion topics included "How I got my first Geology job", and "Grad School: What I thought it was going to be like vs. what is was actually like". Questions included "Why did you enter grad school?", "How important is a network in getting your first professional job?", and "How did your family react to you wanting to go to grad school?". Alumni were able to give honest and candid answers about graduate school. Surveys were administered to audience members to assess the effectiveness of each panel discussion. Survey participation was high, and discussions were well received by student attendees, alumni, and faculty. In addition to demystifying graduate school, these videos help build student's networks and act as a recruiting tool.
Just trust me: Undergraduates' perceptions of climate science and scientists
Steph Courtney, Auburn University Main Campus
karen mcneal, Auburn University Main Campus
The connections between an individual's beliefs concerning climate change and their political ideology is well known by both researchers and the public. Understanding the causes and outcomes of those connections – most importantly, risk perception and policy support – are critical to improving climate change communication. Structural equation modeling (SEM) is a statistical method for understanding these kinds of causal relationships between variables. In this study, we used SEM to analyze a survey of 700+ undergraduate students in the southeast US which asked about their climate change knowledge, perceptions of climate change and climate scientists, and social and identity group belongings, with almost all items adapted from previous studies. Comparisons between models and path coefficients reveal complex relationships between political ideology, knowledge, and risk perception. Interestingly, students' perceptions of climate scientists' credibility was an important impactor on risk perception and has implications for theories and practice of climate change communication.
Supporting the NAGT community and Earth education with the NAGT webinar series
Rory McFadden, Carleton College
Bradlee Wahid Cotton, Carleton College
Mitchell Bender-Awalt, Carleton College
The annual NAGT webinar series serves the NAGT community by showcasing NAGT sponsored programs, projects, and the work of NAGT's Divisions. The webinar series provides professional development opportunities for educators to engage with pedagogy, discuss novel and innovative work in geoscience education, share classroom and professional experiences, and review new teaching materials. We address themes on improving teaching and learning; addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion in Earth education; and engaging with communities and society in Earth education. Educators of all types including K-12, informal education, and higher education, who are interested in learning from experts and their peers to improve Earth education are invited and encouraged to join the discussion.The one-hour webinars are interactive and include opportunities for engagement and peer-to-peer sharing of expertise. The webinar series planning committee works to organize an annual schedule that highlights ongoing work by the NAGT community. NAGT has also partnered with organizations such as GSA, CUAHSI, AGI, and NASA through shared webinars. During the last two years, the webinar series has supported long-standing programs and Divisions, built connections with other national organizations, and delivered timely webinars on remote learning. The NAGT webinar series has produced more than 50 webinars for over 7500 registrants and 2500 attendees. Educators have led webinars on inclusive teaching practices, addressing access and accommodations, using large environmental datasets, environmental justice, developing a sense of place, and promoting diversity in the geosciences. The abrupt transition to remote learning led to a set of timely webinars on teaching geoscience online, remote field experiences (partnered with GSA), and an NGSS-ESS mini-series on remote teaching and learning. All of these webinars are available on the NAGT webinar series archive! We encourage everyone to attend these webinars, join the mailing list, and suggest topics for future webinars at the webinar webpage: http://nagt.org/190616.
Results of the 2021/2022 GER Needs Assessment Survey: A Snapshot of the Community
Annie Klyce, Vanderbilt University
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Laura Lukes, University of British Columbia
Kim Cheek, University of North Florida
Nicole LaDue, Northern Illinois University
Peggy McNeal, Towson University
Kristen St. John, James Madison University
The geoscience education research (GER) community began to coalesce as its own independent field in the 2000s, after significant groundwork done by "border crossers" in prior decades (NRC, 2012). By 2014, there were sufficient numbers of people interested in GER to develop a community of practice as a division within NAGT, called NAGT-GER (Lukes et al., 2015). In the last eight years, major efforts have helped amplify the work, growth and impact of GER, including the development of the Community Framework (St. John et al., 2020), the GER Toolbox, and a methodological and theoretical framework-based session at the GSA's Annual Meeting hosted by NAGT-GER. GER has also been improved by better representation in cross-DBER communities, and most recently, the inclusion of GER perspectives in AGU's efforts to promote integrated, coordinated, open and networked (ICON) science to advance the geosciences (Fortner et al., in review). As the community has rapidly grown in number and expanded to include a more diverse set of geoscience disciplines, the time had come for a needs assessment of the GER community to identify next steps for advancing the collective. We disseminated a survey to multiple geoscience listservs in December 2021 and January 2022 to identify current demographic patterns, disciplines and professional development needs. Preliminary results indicate that of the N=123 respondents who provided demographic information, 54.4% identified as female, and 73.17% identified as White. Respondents were employed primarily in higher education at four-year teaching-focused (n = 42) or research-focused (n = 41) institutions or at two-year colleges (n = 10), with another 17 reporting employment as graduate students. Comparisons with the history of other DBER communities and recommendations for next steps will be shared, as well as how professional development needs vary across demographics (e.g. graduate students, disciplinary groups).
In Search of Earth's Secrets: A Community-Driven Traveling Exhibit as a Mechanism for Building a STEM Learning Ecosystem
Sharon Cooper, Columbia University in the City of New York
Jon Lewis, Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus
Since 2018, the traveling exhibit, In Search of Earth's Secrets has toured the United States to share cutting edge Earth science content in collaboration with the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and partnerships with local host learning communities. It consists of six interactive kiosks, a large inflatable, walk-through replica of the JOIDES Resolution scientific ocean drilling vessel with a multi-media show inside, a large walk-on map of the ocean floor, and associated graphics.While providing family and community learning opportunities, it has also worked deliberately with Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, 4H and other youth-serving organizations to provide training to serve as STEM docents interacting with the public. Throughout its tour, Earth's Secrets has offered IODP scientists opportunities to share their work with broader and often-underserved communities. The project has catalyzed numerous engagement nodes in a growing STEM learning ecosystem that is providing entry points for young people, scientists, families, libraries and communities to engage with current and on-going federally-funded science. Its co-creation model allows the host learning communities to shape how they use the exhibit and its associated resources and this has led to the strengthening of local intra-community connections. Working with local museums and libraries has allowed workers at these community institutions to engage meaningfully with both content and the science communication process, and grow their understanding of Earth science while providing new resources to their communities. The multi-generational teams that have come together to host In Search of Earth's Secrets have consistently and meaningfully deepened their working relationships within the community.
A 3D model of thermohaline circulation to support learning in an undergraduate introductory oceanography course
Caleb Flaim, University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Sasha Seroy, University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Thermohaline circulation is a foundational concept in introductory undergraduate oceanography courses required for advanced learning in upper-level oceanography courses. Thermohaline circulation describes the density-driven flow of water throughout the world's oceans. This concept is commonly taught using 2D diagrams and animations however, students often struggle with the 3D patterns and connections associated with thermohaline circulation. To remedy this, we sought to present thermohaline circulation in three dimensions to enable students to apply their knowledge and work with physical models. We constructed an interactive physical model of thermohaline circulation which included 3D printed continents and Arduino-controlled LED strips colored to represent global temperature and salinity patterns. We implemented the model as a teaching tool in a large undergraduate introductory oceanography course during the module covering thermohaline circulation. In TA sections, students utilized the model to observe patterns, match depth profiles to different geographic locations, and apply their knowledge to draw their own depth profiles using the model. After completing the in-class assignment, we assessed whether the model helped students understand and apply key concepts from lecture using surveys. Students reported an enhanced understanding of ocean circulation, depth profile interpretation, and processes that cause geographic patterns of temperature and salinity. In addition, students expressed excitement about continued use of interactive physical models used in introductory oceanography courses.
Using co-operative gameplay in outreach to change students' perceptions of geoscience
Annaka Clement, North Dakota State University-Main Campus
Jessie Rock, North Dakota State University-Main Campus
Lydia Tackett, North Dakota State University-Main Campus
Stephanie Day, North Dakota State University-Main Campus
Recent studies have found that for students entering college, altruism is a desired aspect of a future career. Problematically, few students perceived geoscience careers as altruistic or even expressed an understanding of the potential career paths in geoscience. This dissonance in incoming student perceptions of geoscience may be linked to declining major enrollment. Classically, geoscientists have often cited job benefits such as high income, working outdoors, and travel as reasons to pursue a career in geoscience, but these may not be as appealing to the next generation of scientists. This research seeks to test if alternative forms of outreach and recruitment that highlight geoscientists' roles in renewable energy, remediation and environmental fields, and studying climate change alter students' perceptions of geoscientists. To accomplish this, a co-operative game was developed, originally based on SERC activity 49774, a carbon cycle dice game by Callan Bentley. The activity was first modified by Ryan Hollister for the 2018 Earth Educators' Rendezvous, where card sheets for reservoirs were introduced and edited to have students more explicitly calculate relative reservoir sizes, fluxes between reservoirs, and the duration carbon may spend in each reservoir. The game was further altered at North Dakota State University to make carbon reservoir cards more specific to the North Dakota-Minnesota region. The most recent iteration adds co-operative gameplay where students actively intervene in the carbon cycle through roles, including geoscientist, that can actively impact the climate. Our goal is to demonstrate the influence geoscience careers can have on modern challenges, such as climate change, in an engaging format. This most recent version of the game will be used as an alternative outreach tool. This research is currently underway, and data will be collected at middle school, high school, early college, and community events through 2022.
Insights and Learning Gains from a Novel Water and Wastewater Systems Module
Hayley Joyell Smith, University of Georgia
Gary Hawkins, University of Georgia
Cathy Manduca, Carleton College
Patty Lawson, University of Georgia
Integrating water and wastewater systems (toilet systems) into geoscience courses highlights the relevance of human actions on the water, carbon, and nutrient systems. It also presents an opportunity to introduce regenerative systems, which are more sustainable than conventional septic and sewer systems. A Water and Wastewater Module was developed and deployed in an undergraduate course at University of Georgia. It included two active-learning lectures and a lab. The module was taught using a water and wastewater systems framework that outlines topics related to the social, environmental, and infrastructure domains of the systems. Analogue models and diagrams were used to explore the connections among our toilet systems and water-food-energy systems. Ethical considerations were discussed alongside the scientific aspects of the systems. Students (n=46) completed pre-post interest and familiarity surveys, pre-post-prolonged assessments of their ability to draw a diagram of the water and wastewater system, and course assignments. Student focus groups (n=30) were also conducted. Evidence indicates student learning and support for teaching about water and wastewater systems in a soils and hydrology course. Top insights from analysis from student responses:- Presentation of urine and feces as a valuable resource resonates with student interest in living more sustainably- Protecting drinking water from wastewater pollution is a priority- Using hands-on analogue models are an effective way to communicate the basic functioning of the systems and an individual's role in the system- Students found it valuable to know about alternative toilet system options, such as urine diversion, humanure compost, and constructed wetlands- Talking about the social side of the water and wastewater systems is critical
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Raising our expectations for JEDI work in geoscience faculty evaluation systems: an insight into who sustains this work and what motivates faculty to be engaged
Alisa Kotash, University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
Morgan Woodle, University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
Joyeeta Bhattacharya, University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
Megan Elwood Madden, University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
Amy Cerato, University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
Mashhad Fahes, University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
Jane Irungu, University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
Lori Snyder, University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
Lynn Soreghan, University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
Many geoscience departments are acutely aware of the exceptionally low racial and ethnic diversity among our geoscience students, faculty, and professional peers. Unfortunately, these demographics have stayed stagnant over the past two decades, despite the improvement in gender representation and balance, and continual effort to grow and retain diversity. It is imperative that all faculty are actively engaged in JEDI (Justice-Equity-Diversity-Inclusion) efforts to effect meaningful and sustained change. Previous studies that focused broadly on faculty experiences in academia identified that faculty evaluation frameworks would benefit from a JEDI-valued restructuring. This would encourage faculty to be hired, supported, and held responsible to engage in JEDI efforts to achieve career success, including tenure, promotion, merit raises and other rewards. Despite significant scholarship highlighting the positive effects of inclusive hiring practices, these standards have largely been limited to the hiring stage, creating a disconnect between hiring and evaluation. We interviewed 45 geoscience faculty members across the U.S. to better understand faculty perspectives and motivations related to JEDI work. Preliminary interviews suggest <50% of faculty are actively engaged in JEDI initiatives and those who are involved, are more likely to identify as non-male and/or early career professionals. We also conducted a nation-wide survey of geoscience faculty that explored how JEDI activities are valued in current faculty assessment frameworks. Together with the data from the interviews and survey results, this research will develop example evaluation and reward structures that explicitly value JEDI work that can easily be adopted/adapted by geoscience departments, along with webinars focused on aiding faculty leaders to critique, deconstruct, and revise their current hiring/evaluation systems. As a geoscience community, we are missing the skills, aptitude, knowledge, and diverse perspectives that reside within currently minoritized groups. We will be limiting our science if we do not do better around valuing faculty JEDI engagement.
Peer groups as a mechanism to build social support for STEM majors from low-income backgrounds
Nicole LaDue, Northern Illinois University
Daryl Dugas, Northern Illinois University
Stephanie Schmidt, Northern Illinois University
Duangkamon Witikun, Northern Illinois University
The Building Engagement in Laboratories, Networking, and Peer Groups (BELONG) in STEM project is an NSF-funded Scholarships in STEM (S-STEM) program for high-achieving, low-income students. Our project model includes weekly meetings with peer groups of ten or fewer scholars facilitated by a science graduate student. Scholars meet in a non-academic environment for 1.5 hours each week to build relationships with one another and connect about their life experiences. This program leverages partnerships between a geoscience education researcher (LaDue) and an educational psychologist (Dugas), who trained the graduate students to develop the peer group structure and facilitate the peer groups throughout the year. Semi-structured interviews of the first cohort of scholars (N=11) in their second year of the program (Spring 2021) revealed how the peer group supported the STEM scholars' sense of belonging. The interviews were coded by two authors and adjudicated by the two other authors to build trustworthiness. Students described their time-commitments to school and work, and the move to virtual peer group meetings as challenges of participating in a peer group. BELONG scholars reported that once they understood that the peer group was a non-academic space, they found it to be a great venue for relieving stress and built-in socialization. Most scholars expressed that participating in the peer group normalized their experience in STEM. They discovered shared values and interests, and learned they had similar struggles to their peers. The connections they built in the group led to friendships beyond the group. With the transition to virtual meetings during the pandemic, scholars did feel connecting became more challenging, but highly valued the relief from their isolation and the opportunity to socialize within their peer groups. Suggestions for how to generate similar non-academic spaces where STEM students can build a sense of belonging will be provided.
The Influence of Geoscientist Spotlights on the Perceived Identities of Scientists
Peyton Smalls, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Sarah Todd, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Majors frequently "discover" the geosciences through introductory courses, yet the scientists featured there often reflects historical stereotypes of scientists (e.g. white, straight, cisgender male). This is one of many potential factors limiting students from seeing themselves as the types of people who "do science." One tool developed to address this gap is "Scientist Spotlights" (Schinske et al., 2016), which feature non-stereotypical scientists alongside scientific content. These have been shown to shift student descriptions of scientists to be more non-stereotypical, and to increase the relatability of scientists.To assess whether these assignments can successfully be transferred to a geoscience context, and to identify which features are most salient in supporting their impact, we created a dozen weekly "Geoscientist Spotlight" assignments for an introductory geology course of 240 students. Using a 2x2 study design, students were randomly assigned into a "personal" or "non-personal" group, and then into a "reflection" or "non-reflection" group. Students in the personal group received information about the geoscientists (e.g. a photo and a short bio) in addition to their scientific work; students in the reflection group were explicitly asked to reflect on what the week's resources told them about the types of people who do science. All students completed a pre/post semester survey with questions about the types of people who do science and the relatability of scientists. Preliminary results of the pre-semester data indicate that most students hold stereotypical notions of scientists (e.g. intelligent, curious). Non-stereotypes (e.g. comments that "scientists can be any type of person") are present for less than a third of student submissions. Responses will be compared with those submitted post-semester, and examined by treatment group. These results can help us identify what assignment features are most impactful in shifting student ideas about who can do science.
Who's going outside? A survey on field trip practices in Introductory Courses
Avery Shinneman, University of Washington-Bothell Campus
Relatively good data exist on the frequency of field-based coursework offered to upper division students in earth and environmental sciences nationally as well as the skills they aim to develop and foster in undergraduate majors. Less information has been gathered on the frequency with which field excursions are typically offered at the introductory level or their learning objectives. A survey of geoscience faculty at both two- and four-year institutions was used to gather information on the frequency of introductory field trips in different kinds of programs, their role in curriculum, barriers to student participation, institutional barriers to field trips, and trends in virtual offerings. Responses show a range of access to field experience for pre-major students which may impact recruitment and retention into geoscience majors.