Thursday A: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Thursday 1:30pm-4:00pm Tate B20
Oral Session Part of Thursday A: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Adam Papendieck, The University of Texas at Austin
Sue Ebanks, Savannah State University
A pilot study of how evolution understanding, evolution acceptance, and perceptions of conflict between religion and evolution are affected by biology, geoscience, and science education courses at a religiously affiliated institution
Brendan Anderson, Baylor University
Elizabeth Petsios, Baylor University
Suzanne, Baylor University
Dana Friend, Paleontological Research Institution
Understanding and acceptance of the theory of evolution are crucial components of science literacy, and widespread non-acceptance of evolution may have far reaching policy consequences for human health, environmental sustainability, and educational practices. The most prevalent indicator of non-acceptance of evolution among college students remains student's self-identified faith and perceived conflict of evolution with religion (Sinatra et al. 2003; Betti et al. 2020). This may have consequences for other aspects of diversity in biology and the geosciences (Barnes et al. 2020). We are seeking to evaluate how different instructor identities and instructional techniques may influence student evolution understanding, acceptance of evolution, and perceptions of these conflicts in the context of a religiously affiliated university. To address these questions, we administered a Qualtrics survey to students before and after discussing evolutionary biology in participating biology, geoscience, and education courses. Surveys included collection of demographic information, the macroevolution component of the I-SEA inventory (Nadelson & Southerland 2012), two segments of the Perceived Conflict of Religion and Evolution instrument (Barnes et al. 2021), questions respecting student perceptions of their instructors and how evolution would be/was treated in class, and related open response questions. Students were also invited to participate in post-course interviews. In the science education courses, students also wrote a brief science teaching philosophy statement which provided a source of additional qualitative information. Student perspectives included atheistic evolution, theistic evolution, microevolution with special creation, and opinions that could be categorized as a viewpoint that evolution and religion are "non-overlapping magisteria". In Fall 2021, perceptions of conflict scores increased, although not in a statistically significant manner, but macroevolution understanding was unchanged. New data presented here will greatly increase the size of the dataset and include a larger portion of students enrolled in biology and geoscience courses.
Data show that ALL students do better when Introductory Geology course is adapted to actively and equitably include visually impaired students
Kate Pound, North Hennepin Community College
Educators work within a system that expects us to address the learning needs of all our students, which can be challenging, particularly given the status of funding, resources, and time available to us, it can seem difficult to address the societal need to equitably integrate all students into our classes and labs. Geoscience educators have focused much of their energy on helping students SEE geology, but the benefits of working with visually impaired students as part of a class require (1) different presentation styles, and (2) adapted classroom and Lab demonstrations, which in turn build stronger, more-inclusive communities in which ALL students do better. Data collected from an introductory college geology course for majors that was modified to truly include a visually-impaired student shows that ALL students do better compared to both previous and subsequent renditions of the course. Modifications to lecture style were the key initial step; the modifications meant that it took longer to 'present' a topic, but the focus on true understanding resulted in improved learning for all. Intentional pairing or grouping of students to answer in-class questions, resulted in more active discussions, improved student engagement, and improved student learning. Most importantly, data collected show that demonstrations or tactile 'in-class' activities relating to seafloor sediment distribution, Walthers Law, cross-cutting relations, contoured data, geologic maps, and earthquake activity at subduction zones not only built a stronger, more-inclusive classroom community, but also helped all students 'SEE' geology better – as well as communicate their understandings with their peers.
Development of Socially and Ethically Articulate Science Identities in a Broader Impacts of Science Course
Adam Papendieck, The University of Texas at Austin
Flavio S. Azevedo, The University of Texas at Austin
Julia Clarke, The University of Texas at Austin
Students in the geosciences and other sciences may have few opportunities in their academic curriculum to think systematically about the individual and social values that influence their disciplinary pursuits. This kind of ethical, values-based reasoning about scientific work can be critically important to the development of their holistic scientific identities, disciplinary persistence, and broader impacts through scientific practice. With an eye towards better supporting deep student identity work, we present findings from three years of design-based research on a course on the broader impacts of science. Structured per the Curiosity to Question model for course-based research experiences (CBREs) shared in a 2021 EER workshop, this work further develops and applies the approach for learning and inquiry into social and ethical questions. The course engages students from multiple STEM disciplines in a semester-long process of (1) building classroom community for critical questioning, (2) individual empirical ethical inquiry and (3) collaborative design of broader impacts interventions. The high-level design conjecture for the course is that that by engaging students in a systematic (re)examination of what counts as good science and who counts as a scientist, they will develop more complex socially and ethically articulate scientific identities. Post-course surveys show positive student reactions to the course, that they view it as a novel opportunity to think about science and scientists in helpful ways, and that they gain confidence in their ability to explain what they do as student-scientists and why they do it. Surveys also indicate a positive impact on the degree to which students identify as scientists. By analyzing forum discussions, Zoom-based discussions, drafts of empirical ethical investigations and intervention designs, we reveal some of the values-based reasoning and affective work undertaken by students in forming socially and ethically articulate scientific identities. Conceptual and design considerations are highlighted for further work.
Learning and Identity Work in a Field-based Introductory Geology Course
Christopher J. Bell, The University of Texas at Austin
Adam Papendieck, The University of Texas at Austin
Fernando Rey, The University of Texas at Austin
Mary Poteet, The University of Texas at Austin
David Mohrig, The University of Texas at Austin
Place- and field-based learning experiences have been shown to contribute to students' understandings of the earth as a complex system and strengthen their scientific identities. At the same time, historically field-based sciences like geology are among the least diverse of all STEM disciplines, and increased attention has been drawn to how the cultural and practical norms of scientific fieldwork may play into dynamics of social exclusion and educational inequity. How can we design field- and place-based experiences that work better for a diversity of learners? Here we present findings from the first year of an ongoing program of design-based research focused on the development of a new field-based introductory physical geology course. Two high-level conjectures guided design and inquiry: (1) focusing on specific questions in specific local field sites will allow students to integrate geoscientific subdisciplines and develop more complex conceptualizations of the earth, and (2) forming an inclusive geoscientific community with students in local places that matter to them will contribute to their development of discipline-based identities. We found evidence supporting both conjectures. In a survey of learning gains, 85% (n=13) of students reported high gains in understanding the connections among disciplines, a finding elaborated through analysis of student fieldnotes and writing. Most students also reported high gains in feeling like a scientist and part of a scientific community (69%), and reported positive relations with peers (85%) and instructors (92%). Over 90% intended to continue as geology majors. Four months of participant observation and post-course interviews revealed a wide variety of connections--conceptual, cultural, historical, affective and material--salient to the disciplinary identity work undertaken by students. We present a framework to better understand and design for such rich connections. Last, we share our refined design conjectures for the second iteration of the course and invite feedback from meeting participants.
Virtual strike and dip – advancing inclusive and accessible field geology
Accessibility and inclusivity in field geology have become increasingly important issues to address in geoscience education and have long been set aside due to the tradition of field geology and the laborious task of making it inclusive to all. Although a popular saying among geologists is "the best geologists see the most rocks", field trips cost money, time, and are only accessible to those who are physically able to stay outside for extended periods. With the availability of 3D block diagrams, an onslaught of virtual learning environments is becoming increasingly viable. Strike and dip is at the core of any field geologist's education and career; learning and practicing these skills is fundamental to making geologic maps and understanding the regional geology of an area. Here we present the second study using the Strike and Dip virtual tool (SaD) with the objective of teaching the principles of strike and dip for geologic mapping to introductory geology students. We embedded the SaD tool into an introductory geology course and recruited 147 students to participate in the study. Participants completed two maps using the SaD tool and reported on their experiences through a questionnaire. Students generally perceived the SaD tool positively. Furthermore, some individual differences among students proved to be important contributing factors to their experiences and subjective assessments of learning. When controlling for participants' past experience with similar software, our results indicate that students highly familiar with navigating geographical software perceived the virtual environment of the tool to be significantly more realistic and easier to use compared with those with lower levels of familiarity. Our results are corroborated by a qualitative assessment of participants' feedback to two open-ended questions, highlighting both the overall effectiveness of the SaD tool and the effect of geographical software familiarity on measures of experience and learning.
Examining experiences in the geosciences as a student and as a professor with a learning disability: an autoethnography comparing the two perspectives
Caitlin Callahan, Grand Valley State University
In 2015 when I started my career as an assistant professor in geology at Grand Valley State University, I resolved that I would disclose my learning disability (LD) to the students in each course that I taught, and I have. Over time, though, how I have disclosed has changed. In my early semesters, I explained that "I was a student with a learning disability." More recently, though, I have introduced myself by stating that "I have a learning disability." This change in wording reflects a significant transition in my mindset, one that required intentional efforts over a period of time.The qualitative methodology of autoethnography involves examining cultural experiences and beliefs through construction of personal narratives that can provide "insider" perspectives and then contextualizing those narratives with existing literature. In this presentation, I am consciously choosing to set aside common questions about either external barriers or useful supports for students and professionals with learning disabilities. While such questions and discussions are significant, they can overlook the more intimate experiences of living with an LD and are unlikely to cover the span of experiences from student to teacher for a single person. Thus, I am choosing instead to employ my "insider" perspective to address the following questions: How did my LD inform and alter my experiences as an undergraduate and graduate student in the geosciences? How have my thirty years of experiences with my LD informed my approach to teaching in the geosciences? How do my experiences relate to existing literature on being a student and professional with an LD? While analyzing my own story and the literature offers me some resolution to these personal questions, another intent of this project is to add to the larger, ongoing discussion about inclusion and accessibility in the geosciences.
Expanding HBCU Pathways for Geoscience Education
Sue Ebanks, Savannah State University
Dr. Edith Davis, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University
Reginald Archer, Tennessee State University
Over the past 40-plus years of recruitment activities and tracking of racial demographics, there has been an obvious consistent under-representation of African Americans in the Geosciences, both as a field and for the subfields that comprise the Geosciences. Recruitment efforts in some sub-fields have produced occasional increases, but there is clearly a need to reassess the approach for supporting the continued matriculation toward careers in the Geosciences, including Geoscience Education. 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 exposure to 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 present major findings from the evaluation of 6 unique HBCUs, as the foundation for planned next steps, which include meaningful collaborative research at the intersection of the Geosciences with K12 educators and the broader community.
Improving skills to address diversity, equity, and inclusion: Lessons from evaluation of an NSF funded NAGT facilitator workshop
Bonita Flournoy, Carleton College
Ellen Iverson, Carleton College
Catherine Riihimaki, 2NDNATURE Software Inc.
Faculty professional development can play a role in encouraging diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the classroom and contribute to the retention and mentoring of diverse faculty. In May of 2021, the virtual workshop Toward a More Equitable Geoscience engaged facilitators from the three NAGT workshops: Early Career, Preparing for an Academic Career, and the Traveling workshop program. The workshop used readings, scenarios, and role-playing to increase knowledge and facilitation skills specific to navigating conversations related to DEI and creating action plans to further address content for each NAGT workshop. The 25 facilitators who completed the end-of-workshop survey expressed high satisfaction (9.7 of 10), finding value in improving practice through scenario-based interactions and creating action plans.In the winter of 2021, a qualitative study was conducted through focus groups and interviews involving seven facilitators to ascertain any perceived changes related to DEI in their facilitation skills, in the NAGT programs, and in their professional lives. Using thematic analysis of transcripts provided a narrative of the engagement and learnings and how facilitators position and navigate their teaching, facilitation, career preparation, and readiness through the lens of DEI. The evaluation found that facilitators were at a point in their careers where they see themselves as possessing some tools to diagnose and address their audiences. The DEI workshop provided facilitators with insights mostly from sharing experiences with their peers about having hard conversations with their home institution faculty. They plan to share these strategies with future NAGT workshop participants, and to be more intentional with addressing the needs of who is in courses they teach at their own institutions, and when they lead workshops. For future professional development, facilitators desired advanced level workshops in having hard conversations, how to address micro-aggressions, and how to have broader impact on the geoscience community.