The Impacts of a First-Year Seminar on Academic and Career Planning for Earth System Science Students at UCI

Monday 4:30pm-6:00pm Quad
Poster Session Part of Monday Poster Session


Elizabeth Crook, University of California-Irvine
Julie Ferguson, University of California-Irvine
Retention of students in geoscience fields, particularly of traditionally underrepresented groups, remains a nationally recognized concern. Many studies have shown that first-year seminars can have a positive effect on a student's transition to college, persistence in their chosen degrees, and ultimate success and retention in STEM fields. The University of California, Irvine, has a particularly diverse undergraduate population and is a designated Hispanic and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (HIS; AANAPISI). Specifically in the Earth System Science (ESS) Department, up to 50% of the undergraduates enrolled are first generation students, and 30-40% are low-income. By creating a one-unit first-year seminar targeted at increasing retention of our majors, the ESS Department aimed to 1) assist students with academic and career planning, 2) increase student awareness of opportunities on campus, including opportunities for research in the department, and 3) increase a sense of belonging in the major. In the fall of 2022, the seminar was attended by approximately 180 incoming freshmen and transfer students (broken into 3 separate cohorts to maintain smaller class size), and consisted of 1 instructional hour per week. Here we present pre and post survey data to assess the effectiveness of the seminar class in meeting our goals. This data will be used to identify whether the course met our instructional goals, is a beneficial use of ESS instructional resources, and what aspects of the seminar class are most impactful for student success and retention in the geosciences.