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SAGE Musings: the SAGE 2YC Project Blog

The SAGE Musings blog features bi-weekly 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 growing collection of posts and share them with your colleagues.

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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

SAGE Musings: 2018 Report on the Status of the Geoscience Workforce


Posted: Apr 4 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

About a decade ago, the American Geosciences Institute began publishing reports on the status of the geoscience workforce. This year's report, authored by Carolyn Wilson, is a detailed summary of trends in geoscience education and employment, with information compiled from primary data collected by AGI and from the US Government, the geoscience industry, and professional societies. If you are looking for information on the current state of the geoscience workforce and projections of geoscience employment opportunities in the near future, the 2018 Report on the Status of the Geoscience Workforce is a wealth of information. There are three topics in this year's report that I think will be of high interest to everyone involved in the SAGE 2YC project: trends in two-year college geoscience programs; trends in geoscience employment, including salary projections; and demographic data on the geoscience workforce. More

SAGE Musings: Strategies for Supporting 2YC-4YCU Transfer


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

Facilitating geoscience students' professional pathways is one of the key goals of the SAGE 2YC project, and one means to that end is supporting 2YC - 4YCU transfer. The National Science Foundation's GeoPaths program is extremely well-aligned with this goal. We conducted an inventory of strategies used in nine funded GeoPaths projects, several involving SAGE 2YC faculty members. Strategies to support 2YC - 4YCU transfer in the geosciences that are common across multiple projects include advising and mentoring, internships and research opportunities, providing students with career information and introducing them to geoscience professionals, aligning 2YC and 4YCU curricula, bridge programs, institutional collaborations, and financial support. While no program has all of these elements, each of the programs we inventoried uses multiple strategies. Here are a few examples of how each of these strategies is implemented. More

SAGE Musings: Geoscience Career Resources on the SAGE 2YC Website


Posted: Mar 7 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

When I was a faculty member, I gave very little thought to teaching my students about geoscience careers. I suppose I thought -- to the extent that I thought about it at all -- that if they enjoyed my course enough, they would choose to major in geoscience, would earn their Bachelors degree in it, and would then do what I did: go to graduate school. If I were teaching now, I would take a very different approach. There are a wide array of careers available to people with degrees in geoscience; it seems to me that I could find a geoscience career option that would appeal to almost anyone. Moreover, there are geoscience careers available to people with any college degree, including an Associates degree. If you would like to include information about geoscience careers in your courses, check out the SAGE 2YC web pages on providing geoscience career information to your students. More

SAGE Musings: Catalyzing and Sustaining Institutional Change


Posted: Feb 21 2019 by Andrew Haveles and Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

Our world is changing rapidly. To prepare the next generation of students for their roles in the workforce and society, our institutions of higher education need to change as well. However, institutional change is hard (e.g., Kezar, 2014; Kotter, 2014; Kezar et al., 2015; Elrod and Kezar, 2017). Moreover, institutional change can be emotional, political, and messy, and is seldom as logical as STEM faculty might expect it to be (Kezar et al., 2015). The SAGE 2YC: Faculty as Change Agents project has engaged faculty members at two-year colleges across the nation in the process of working for change at their institutions. What can we learn from other projects engaged in similar efforts? More

SAGE Musings: Selected NSF Programs of Interest to 2YC Faculty


Posted: Feb 7 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

As the SAGE 2YC: Faculty as Change Agents project comes to a close, many of the faculty members involved in the project have expressed an interest in obtaining funding the support the continuation of their work. That's wonderful! We would like to see this work continue, too. Furthermore, the goals of the SAGE 2YC project are of high interest in higher education right now: supporting the academic success of all students, broadening participation in the geosciences and in STEM, and promoting students' professional pathways. In many cases, continuing the work of the SAGE 2YC project -- especially on your own campus -- won't require any funding, or can be supported by internal funding from your institution. But if what you envision requires a significant influx of funding, there are NSF programs that might be of interest. Here are a few to consider, listed in alphabetical order. Each of the descriptions below is taken verbatim from the National Science Foundation (NSF) website. More

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