SAGE Musings: the SAGE 2YC Project Blog

The SAGE Musings blog features posts that address topics related to supporting students' academic success, facilitating students' professional pathways in the geosciences, broadening participation in the geosciences, and catalyzing change. Although written for geoscience faculty at two-year colleges, most posts are relevant for any STEM faculty member. Check out the collection of posts and share them with your colleagues.

Blog posts were published bi-weekly from April, 2016 through October, 2019. Future blog posts will be published ad hoc. Sign up here to receive future blog posts as email messages.


SAGE Musings: How Will Cohort 3 Be Different?

Posted: Oct 24 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

We're getting ready to launch the 3rd iteration of the SAGE 2YC project! The November 1st (2019) deadline for applications to be part of the 3rd cohort of faculty Change Agents is fast approaching. How will the 3rd phase of this project be different than the first two?

I see three significant differences between cohort 3 and cohorts 1 & 2:

  1. Professional development will be limited to a one-year timeline;
  2. Faculty Change Agents from cohorts 1 & 2 will be involved in planning and delivering that professional development; and
  3. We are explicitly supporting applications from multi-disciplinary cohort 3 Change Agent teams. More

SAGE Musings: Impostor Syndrome

Posted: Oct 17 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

The Impostor Syndrome: that persistent, pernicious feeling that you aren't really qualified for the position you find yourself in -- that sooner or later, someone is going to find out that you are a "fraud" (e.g., see references). Originally described as a phenomenon affecting high-achieving women (Clance and Imes, 1978), the impostor "syndrome" is now widely recognized as affecting men in equal numbers (Laursen, 2008). Although I've been unable to find a reference describing how prevalent the impostor phenomenon is in STEM, it appears to be fairly common, prompting one Engineering professor to write a short article entitled "Impostors Everywhere" (Felder, 1988). In any case, it affects both faculty members and students (e.g. Felder, 1988; Laursen, 2008; Campbell, 2019). Fortunately, there are effective strategies for addressing and overcoming these feelings. More

SAGE Musings: Addressing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Department Level

Posted: Oct 3 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

At the 2019 meeting of the Geological Society of America, one of my colleagues from graduate school asked me for a list of actions that her department could take to address diversity, equity, and inclusion. This immediately reminded me of our -- as yet unpublished -- SAGE 2YC Departmental Practices Inventory, a tool familiar to every faculty Change Agent involved in the project. The full Departmental Practices Inventory (DPI) addresses all three of the SAGE 2YC: Faculty as Change Agents project strands: supporting the academic success of all students, broadening participation in the geosciences, and facilitating students' professional pathways. This inventory, which is based on the research literature, can be used by any department to self-assess its alignment with evidence-based practices related to these goals. For this Musing, I've mined the DPI for "action items" a department could take to support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

These items are related to attracting, supporting, and engaging a diverse population of students, including fostering a sense of belonging among students in your department or program. I would be amazed if any department does all of these things. However, if your department is not as diverse as your institution's student population, I encourage you to implement an idea or several from the list below. More

SAGE Musings: What We Are Learning From Our Project Evaluation

Posted: Sep 12 2019 by Debra Bragg, Bragg & Associates

Summary Results from our 4th Annual Report to the National Science Foundation

Evaluation of the fourth year of the SAGE 2YC project provided valuable insights into what's changing in the work of two cohorts of geoscience faculty Change Agents. Our theory of change is rooted in a professional development model that has two major goal domains of increasing evidence-based practices and building sustainable leadership. This model also stresses improving instructional practices, broadening participation of underrepresented students, and enhancing students' professional pathways. The model also purports that engaging faculty Change Agents in systematic reflection and inquiry on the changes they are making independently and in collaboration with others will promote continued improvement in 2YC geoscience education that leads to improved student outcomes. Faculty Change Agents are encouraged to share what they're learning with other faculty and staff in their colleges and in their regions. Through their engagement in a cycle of innovation, the Change Agents and their 2YCs learn about what changes in their own practice lead to more equitable student outcomes, and they network with other 2YC geoscience educators to scale these lessons to their colleges and other colleges and universities in their regions. More

SAGE Musings: 2019 Summer Reading Recommendations

Posted: Jun 21 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

I take a break in publishing the SAGE Musings blog over the summer. I also like to make more time for reading over the summer. I asked the SAGE 2YC project leaders and participants for summer reading recommendations, and here they are.... Enjoy! More

SAGE Musings: Teaching Students Metacognitive Strategies

Posted: Jun 13 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

Over the past week, I've been reviewing the sets of pages written by each of the Change Agent teams, and I've been struck by just how many of you say that teaching your students about metacognition and metacognitive strategies has been a game-changer for them and for you. Teaching students how to learn has been an ongoing theme throughout the SAGE 2YC project, so maybe this shouldn't surprise me: More

SAGE Musings: Developing Students' Science Identities in an Oceanography Course

Posted: May 30 2019 by Lynsey LeMay, Thomas Nelson Community College

A while back, at one of our SAGE gatherings, after a discussion on science identity and seeing some of Jan's scientist profiles, I knew I needed to be more intentional with introducing scientists and the diversity of career options to my students. I share lots of stories in class about days in the field and lab, and try to provide a realistic view of the life of a scientist. However, when it comes down to it, my students are seeing one White woman and her colleagues, most of whom are also White, do science. Most of my students are certainly not White women! While I'm slowly infusing science identity throughout all of the classes that I teach, I've been most successful, and most intentional, in my Oceanography course. More

SAGE Musings: Shifting from Deficit Thinking to Asset Thinking

Posted: May 16 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

Students arrive on our campuses and in our classrooms from a rich array of backgrounds, with an almost unimaginable diversity of prior experiences. This includes a wide range of what we think of as academic preparation, which is in large part a function of the educational opportunities available to our students prior to enrollment in college. When we meet a student who is clearly struggling with college coursework, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking about that student as "deficient," or at least "disadvantaged," because they have not yet developed knowledge and skills that we expect people to learn in high school. I've fallen into this trap myself, more often than I care to admit. This mindset, called deficit thinking, blames our students for the imperfect educational systems that produced them. What's particularly insidious about this is that once we begin to conflate a lack of educational opportunities with a lack of ability or motivation, we are likely to choose pedagogic strategies that are inappropriate for these smart, highly motivated students (Smit, 2012). We can make more appropriate pedagogic choices by consciously developing an asset mindset. More

SAGE Musings: The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Metacognition

Posted: May 2 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

The importance, and power, of teaching our students metacognitive skills is not a new idea for anyone involved in the SAGE 2YC project. Cohort 1 faculty Change Agents heard Saundra Macguire talk about this at our June 2016 workshop, and cohort 2 faculty Change Agents learned about it in our Fall 2017 workshop. Today's Musing focuses on the Dunning-Kruger Effect and metacognitive skills, which include self-regulated learning.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is one of my favorite psychological phenomena related to learning. It is described in one of my favorite journal articles, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments" (Kruger and Dunning, 1999). More

SAGE Musings: Supporting First Generation College Students

Posted: Apr 18 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

In the early years of the 21st century, 45% of the students in public two-year colleges were first-generation college students (Nomi, 2005), and their numbers were increasing (Ishitani, 2003). First-generation students tend to be highly motivated (e.g., Martinez, 2018); they see college as a means to obtaining a job that will provide financial security (Nomi, 2005; Kirk, 2015). However, because families of first-generation students have not experienced college first-hand, they sometimes offer counter-productive advice to students (Davis, 2011). At the same time, college faculty and staff members may incorrectly assume that college students know where, when, and how to find and take advantage of college resources and services (Diamond et al., 2018). In addition, first-generation college students are more likely to be working full-time while attending college (Nomi, 2005; Darling and Smith, 2007), which makes it harder to meet with faculty or staff outside of class. Fortunately, there are many evidence-based practices that faculty can employ to support first-generation students' academic success and persistence (see references). And as with so many research-based practices, these strategies are beneficial to other students as well. More

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