Initial Publication Date: July 11, 2016

Improving Programs

Part of the InTeGrate Stanford University Program Model

Program Motivation

The InTeGrate program at Stanford is our response to the low representation of minorities within STEM disciplines at all levels of academia. We seek to increase the proportion of URMs pursuing geoscience by facilitating undergraduate student learning in geoscience curriculum through the introduction of module material that can inspire enthusiasm for issues in sustainability science, and help faculty revamp course curriculum with new materials and methods.

At the same time, the InTeGrate program at the Stanford School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences fulfills a need for more teaching opportunities for graduate and postdoctoral scholars by pairing them with the InTeGrate geoscience curriculum and our partner MSI/2YCs. Through the teaching experience, advisement with a faculty mentor, and learning about alternative pathways in academia, we aim to equip these students with tools and information that will assist them in achieving the next step in their academic career path. Stanford students have the opportunity to learn and practice pedagogy skills, as well as acquire familiarity with teaching material that they can later use in their own course development. They are given the responsibility to lead a classroom of undergraduate students, helping them to further understand if this is a good career fit. They also receive the support of a faculty mentor to prepare them for the classroom and academic career pathways. The program provides an experience that help Stanford students further identify their career direction and will make them stronger candidates for their next position.


As of Spring 2016, we had successfully implemented a program for including InTeGrate material in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences (SE3) for two years. The program pairs Stanford advanced graduate students and postdocs with our partner MSI/2YCs in the region to utilize InTeGrate geoscience curriculum in the classroom. In 2016, we re-partnered with 2 of our original partners and added 3 new partner institutions. We are strengthening our collaboration with our partner institutions by implementing Memorandums of Understanding. By strengthening the long-term relationship between Stanford and our partner institutions, we can achieve greater recruitment of students from these institutions to participate in other SE3 programs targeted at URMs, such as our summer program SURGE, or geoscience programs at other universities, all with the goal of increasing URMs in geoscience at all levels of academia.

At the end of the 2 year period, we have 11 postdocs and advanced graduate students who have participated in training on the InTeGrate modules, pedagogy development, and have taught the modules in the classroom. The postdocs/advanced graduate students have made positive connections with their mentors that can serve as a source of career networking beyond their active participation in InTeGrate. All of our postdocs/advanced graduate students finished the program feeling re-inspired in their own sense of purpose regarding their academic careers; whether they chose to pursue research at the R1 level, adjunct lecturing or full-time lecturing positions at teaching universities, they did so with confidence due to their teaching experience and career insights. Their participation in InTeGrate made them confident about pursuing a career in academia and more satisfied with their fellowship/PhD program at Stanford. They were all thankful to the InTeGrate Program at SE3 for providing them with valuable teaching resources and opportunities.

Our faculty mentors have similarly been pleased with their participation in the InTeGrate program and feel that the addition of the module material to their course curriculum has strengthened their students' educational experience. They felt it was an advantage to be able to have Stanford students, who are experts in their respective fields, teach the module material and that students appreciated the opportunity as well. The faculty mentors were able to include quality activities in their classroom that they did not have the time or expertise to do themselves. Their participation in the InTeGrate program enriched their courses.

Program-Level Goals and Evidence

Goal 1: Improve our recruitment efforts of underrepresented minorities and other groups to SE3 and other geoscience graduate programs.

The most specific direct action we are taking in this respect is to advertise the SE3's summer program, SURGE, which is targeted towards rising junior and senior URMs. We discuss the program with our faculty partners so that they can flag the program for any of their high-achieving students. The summer program is aimed at preparing these students for graduate school by giving them extra GRE prep/training and matching them with Stanford faculty to conduct a summer research project. We will monitor the applications to the program to see if there is an increase in the number of applications from our partner institutions. The InTeGrate teaching program contributes to SE3's overall efforts to increase diversity, and forms one part of an integral plan to improve diversity at SE3.

Goal 2: Strengthen collaborative associations with local MSI and 2YCs.

We first made contact with our partnering institutions via an email that was sent to the heads of STEM departments at local MSI and 2YCs, describing the InTeGrate teaching program at Stanford and inviting these institutions to partner with us. We followed up with those institutions that expressed interest through a series of phone calls and face-to-face meetings to further describe the program, program objectives and to answer any questions that they had. As a result of this process, in 2015 we partnered with 4 institutions, and in 2016 we partnered with 2 of the original 4 institutions and added 3 new institutions to the program. In 2016, we partnered with the Stanford Vice Provost's Office for Graduate Education in a workshop focused on increasing access to all students from a teaching perspective; we invited all InTeGrate participants and faculty mentors to attend both the workshop and a social networking gathering afterwards, to increase the sense of connection between partners.

Now that we have established long-term institutional funding for the InTeGrate teaching program, we are engaged in the process of creating Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) with our institutional partners so that we can strengthen the commitment of both parties to the partnership. Establishing an MOU will mean that the partnership is no longer dependent on the participation of one faculty member; that there is broader commitment to participate, so that we may attract additional faculty members to participate and replace faculty in cases where they are not teaching the course in the following year.

In follow up interviews with faculty mentors each year, they have commented on how great it was for the students to have a Stanford student teaching; someone who is closer in age and career levels to the students and who brings expertise in their subject area. One faculty mentor commented:

"Another positive aspect of the partnership is that community college students in general don't have a lot of contact with the universities like Stanford. Our students' goal is to transfer to San Jose State University, so to talk about Stanford is a different ballgame and it perks their interest. To have someone from Stanford to come into the classroom and treat the students with respect gives the students confidence."

Faculty mentors were pleased with the module material and the activities that were used; in many cases they said they didn't have the expertise nor the time to design these lectures and classroom activities and the topics were engaging for the students. They felt that their participation in the InTeGrate teaching program had improved the learning environment for their students. One of the faculty mentors also commented on how he incorporated some of the teaching strategies into his course,

"I liked how the material was presented with an outcome at the end of each class session, so it was closed. I started doing shorter-term assessments for the students instead of waiting until the end of the quarter to do one big final assessment. I learned from the module pattern and implemented it myself in the classroom."

Goal 3: Provide professional development, training in teaching and pedagogy, and mentoring support to postdocs and graduate students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to teach, or teach at MSI/2YC institutions while enrolled or working at Stanford.

Stanford graduate students and postdocs were provided opportunities to participate in professional development activities related to learning to teach using InTeGrate materials and pedagogy and participated in these events as cohorts. The students and postdocs who have participated in the program reported that they have gained confidence and experience in teaching. They have also received feedback from their faculty mentors on what they have done well and what are areas that they could improve upon, helping them to become better teachers. A quote taken from one Stanford student expresses this well:

"I think the (undergraduate) students enjoyed it, and I think they learned quite a bit and Joe (faculty mentor) seemed happy. I have a lot of criticisms for myself, but that's good. For example, I had never taught a multiple section course before, and I hadn't realized how hard it can be to keep things consistent among the classes. In one class, students asked about ocean acidification, so we talked about that. Then, in the second section, we talked more about drought and adaptation strategies. When I came back on Thursday, I tried to address both issues so both classes would get a taste -- but I could see it would be a real challenge if I were testing them, to be sure I had covered exactly the same material. My classes would need to be more scripted, I think. Also, I am still learning how to pitch material at the right level and how to gauge how long an activity will take. Joe was great about giving advice on that, and I really appreciated his help."

Goal 4: Continue to give MSIs/2YCs the ability to build their capacity to integrate geoscience teaching through our modules into their courses.

Having Stanford students come into the classroom to teach module material creates an ideal opportunity for faculty partners to also learn some of the module material. The module material often falls outside of the topics that they usually cover in their lectures, and they also benefit from activities that they don't have time to design themselves, even though they would like to. One faculty mentor explained:

"I think that one of the strengths of the module material is the relevancy of it. The module material we covered was about El Nino and this was an El Nino year. It gave students the opportunity to ask things that had been on their mind about climate change and that they didn't understand. It really peaked their interest; they hadn't had this before. It is always good to have experts come in and talk about climate change. I am not an expert on this, so it was really helpful."

But through exposure to the module material each year, faculty can become familiar enough to incorporate some aspects in their own teaching.

Faculty mentors were pleased with the module material and the activities that were used. They felt that their participation in the InTeGrate teaching program had improved the learning environment for their students. One of the faculty mentors also commented on how he incorporated some of the teaching strategies into his course,

"I liked how the material was presented with an outcome at the end of each class session, so it was closed. I started doing shorter-term assessments for the students instead of waiting until the end of the quarter to do one big final assessment. I learned from the module pattern and implemented it myself in the classroom."

Long-term goal: Continue to bring visibility to geoscience and diversity issues in higher education.

Stanford's Office of Multicultural Affairs presented the success of Stanford's InTeGrate program at the 2016 GSA conference in Denver, Colorado as part of the geoscience education poster exhibition. The poster, "Creating opportunities for postgraduate students at a R1 university to teach and engage with students and faculty at MSI/2YC institutions," highlights the positive impact the program has had on Stanford PhD and postdocs by providing them with the opportunity to teach at local institutions and thus contribute to the larger project of introducing a diverse population of undergraduates to the geosciences. In addition, the presentation of InTeGrate's program impact at GSA helps to bring visibility to how the expansion and sustainability of geosciences education in our country must also take into consideration the changing demographics of the student population.

The poster presented the results culled from the program's survey, which was administered to students, faculty, and PhD/postdocs. The survey reflected positive feedback about InTeGrate on multiple fronts. For example, 59% of undergraduate students reported being more motivated to take action personally or professionally to create a more environmentally sustainable society after having the InTeGrate instructor in their classroom. Similarly, 40% of students also reported an increase in their interest in an Earth and Environmental sciences careers path. 100% of participating faculty said they would participate again and recommend the program to colleagues, while 100% of postdocs/grad students said the program exceeded their expectations.

Overall, InTeGrate's model of encouraging PhD students and postdocs to teach at local MSI/2YC institutions brings attention to the crucial role that young researchers who are beginning careers in academia and higher education have in shaping geosciences education. As young researchers, they are in key positions to identify and teach the geosciences topics that engage today's students and they will most likely have influence in bringing visibility to the topic of how shaping the future of the geosciences must take into consideration an increasingly diverse undergraduate student population.

Stanford University InTeGrate poster presented at GSA 2016 (Acrobat (PDF) 8.2MB Nov1 16)