Initial Publication Date: December 1, 2016

Making Change Happen

Part of the InTeGrate University of Illinois Chicago Program Model

Advice for Future Implementations »

High-Level Project Timeline

1. Implement and Adapt InTeGrate Modules

  • Fall 2015 - Implementation of the modules started on a small scale with faculty who were ready to try new teaching pedagogies. We focused on Climate of Change: Interactions and Feedbacks between Water, Air, and Ice for EAES 101 and Humans Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources for EAES 230.
  • Spring 2016 - During the second semester of our program, we expanded implementation to two additional courses (EAES 111 and 285), while revising and continuing implementation for EAES 101.
  • Summer 2016 - Evaluate implementation and adaptation.
  • Fall 2016 - Expand implementation to one additional course (NATS 105), while revising and continuing implementation for EAES 101 and 111.

2. Create a Faculty Protocol to Support Relevant Content

  • Fall 2015 - Host a faculty engagement workshop run by the Office of Career Services about the importance of thinking about careers early on in a student's life.
  • Fall 2016 - Host a faculty seminar from the Teaching and Learning Center representative about socio-emotional dimensions of learning.
  • Ongoing - Informal small group discussions about
  • Ongoing - Develop flexible template mini-units that help faculty incorporate recent and/or local news events and show students how geoscience knowledge is necessary for pressing societal and economic issues

3. Establish an Urban Geoscience Network and Add Career Development into our First and Second Year Courses

  • Fall 2015 - Coordinate with departmental faculty and the Office of Career Services to help establish a network of local employers and alumni. We then sent out email letters to recruit individuals that were interested in helping out the department, either by being interviewed on camera or answering a basic questionnaire about their academic and career path. We hired a graduate student was able to reach out to a few alumni working in the area and arrange on camera interviews. The graduate student was then in charge of editing and final production of the videos. The Office of Career Services also guest lectured 2 classes in EAES 290 to discuss their resources to help students find out and look into career options with a geoscience degree.
  • Spring 2016 - Continue video production and create other promotional material associated with geoscience careers and featuring alumni. Begin hosting alumni on campus.
  • Summer 2016 - Release videos and other career related material.
  • Fall 2016 - Continue video production and implementation of geoscience career related material. Host alumni on campus. Work with Office of Career Services on resume assignment in EAES 290.

Key Aspects of the Program

Faculty Discussion and Collaboration - It was important for faculty to work with each other and have discussions about teaching. In our program model, these discussions were typically held individually and informally. These meetings were opportunities to discuss teaching in a non-threatening way and allow for more customized teaching strategies to be developed depending on each faculty's interests.

Working with Alumni - This was one of the highlights of the program that was well received by faculty, students, and alumni. We are fortunate to have many alumni that have received a BS, MS, or PhD from our department and work locally within the Chicagoland area.

Support from Outside the Department - Faculty meetings with the Chancellor of the University and the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences helped reinforce ideas about improving undergraduate education. Additionally, working with partners from the Office of Career Services and the Teaching and Learning Center helped reinforce program goals.

Sustaining Change

Ongoing Course Revisions - Within several of our first and second year courses, we have had success with small and large scale changes to our courses. In some instances, new course activities and labs were developed specifically to fit within a course, no matter who teaches the course. In other instances, faculty have been encouraged to share some of their successful uses of current events and urban relevant topics. Since the program model began, faculty have been able to have more formal and informal discussions about course content and student engagement. By having discussions to help identify problems, share ideas, and support each other, faculty will help continue to foster change in the classroom. We have also worked to create additional geoscience resources (links about careers, alumni advice, current events, etc.) that can be easily added to any course Blackboard site to be accessed by students. Our hope is that this is a more informal way to reach out to students and show them the broader context in which geoscience exists.

Continued Connections with our Alumni and Local Employers - Working with alumni and connecting with local employers has really energized students and faculty in the department. Through our program we have been able to establish a general network of alumni and local employers. This has helped us create valuable resources that feature our alumni and share their advice with students. Faculty found it valuable and easy to invite alumni and other outside speakers into the classroom. Now that we have seen the positive impact of working with alumni, several individuals are taking the initiative to continue connections and reach out to other individuals (local employers and organizations) that can become apart of our geoscience network. As an extension to this program, we are also planning annual open house events for the department to invite current, former, and perspective students to campus.

Institutional Support - Initial work from our program was also highlighted in recent discussion with the Chancellor of UIC and the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. They have both visited the department and shared their opinions on the importance of undergraduate education, specifically emphasizing classroom experiences and student opportunities. The Dean has also been able to provide additional financial support to help us achieve program goals. In addition to support from UIC administration, we have been able to partner with our Office of Career Services. They have come in to talk to faculty about their services and have offered their assistance with contacting alumni and keeping an alumni directory. Staff from Career Services has also been able to come in to our undergraduate classrooms to work with students on where to find job opportunities and showcase their services.