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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I am writing this Musing about the Field Leadership Safety course I took the Friday and Saturday before the Geological Society of America meeting in Seattle. I took this course for two reasons: 1. I really want to make sure that my field trips are as safe as possible, and 2. I am working to create a field course to the Florida Keys, so I figured taking a field safety course was in my best interest!
The book on which the course was based is Field Safety in Uncontrolled Environments: A Process-Based Guidebook, written by Stephen R. Oliveri and Kevin Bohacs and published by AAPG (the American Association of Petroleum Geologists). Kevin Bohacs ran the course and I must say he is a brilliant instructor! Very knowledgeable and really quite funny! Take the course in Indianapolis next year if they offer it! More
One strategy of the Virginia Change Agent team is to leverage currently existing opportunities for geoscientists across the state to advance the broader goals of the SAGE 2YC: Faculty as Change Agents project. Each year, the Virginia Geological Field Conference (VGFC) provides an opportunity for geoscientists to come together to do what we love—get out and see the rocks while discussing some of the latest research on the various physiographic provinces of Virginia. Traditionally, conference attendants are primarily academic and professional geologists, with a few graduate students, and even fewer undergraduates thrown in the mix. In recent years, members of the Virginia Change Agent team have served as leaders of the field conference, and have begun to encourage their two-year college students to participate. This is a fantastic chance for two-year college students to not only interact with other two-year and four-year college students, but also to network with a variety of geoscientists and to see how geology works in the field. More
Guided Pathways is a national initiative/movement that has important implications for two-year college programs such as geoscience where students typically do not "discover" the discipline until they are enrolled in college. The initiative is intended to increase degree completion rates as well as reduce the number of "unused" credits students accumulate that are not required for the degrees they earn. One of the major goals of Guided Pathways is to provide students with a simplified sequence of courses to ensure that all of the courses they take will "count" toward their degree. However, moving between different pathways is typically difficult.
Regardless of what you think about Guided Pathways, this type of initiative is coming to many two-year colleges in response to multiple important forces, including the linking of retention and completion rates to funding in an effort to improve those rates. More
The biological science education community has undergone considerable efforts to reform how science is taught, using evidence-based strategies to enable all students to be successful. One well-published practitioner is Dr. Kimberley Tanner at San Francisco State University. This Musing highlights some of her work that is pertinent to geoscience teaching. I encourage you to take a look at her publications and consider how to incorporate some of her suggestions into your teaching. More
I've recently begun dipping my toes into the research literature on sense of belonging and its effect on student academic success, and it is FASCINATING. Any student can wonder whether they belong in college; who among us hasn't had moments of doubt? These feelings may be more pervasive and persistent for some students than for others; for example, students who don't see many others "like them" on campus, including first generation college students and other invisible minorities. Yet "social-psychological interventions can unleash the potential of students and of the educational environments in which they learn." (Yeager and Walton, 2011). How? More
One of the three "strands" of the SAGE 2YC: Faculty as Change Agents project is facilitating students' professional pathways. Obviously, not every student will become a geoscientist, but we want to help those who do choose to pursue a geoscience career path. What does it mean to prepare our students to become geoscientists? Certainly one element is to make students aware of geoscience career options. Elizabeth Nagy-Shadman, one of the SAGE 2YC Change Agents, wrote about how she has students investigate geoscience careers in the March, 2018 edition of Foundations, NAGT's 2YC newsletter. Once students are aware of, and some are interested in, geoscience careers, we need to give them opportunities to build and strengthen the skills that geoscientists use. More
Membership in a professional society is one way for students to get started on preparing for their careers in the geosciences. Membership in professional organizations can help students develop their identity as geoscientists, meet professional geoscientists, learn about the profession and about employment opportunities, attend talks, and participate in local or regional field trips. Many professional societies offer free or discounted memberships to students. In addition, some of these national organizations have state, local or even student chapters with local or regional meetings that are more accessible to geoscience students than distant national meetings. More
Even as more women are attending college than men, we earn far fewer degrees in science than men (NSF, 2017) and are underemployed in sciences and engineering relative to men (e.g., Sidder, 2017). What can we do to attract more women into the geosciences and to help them to thrive in our field? Research supports a number of strategies for improving the representation of women in STEM, including showing students female role models, developing a mentoring program, engaging female students in research, and other strategies I've written about in previous SAGE Musings. More
Whether students choose to pursue a degree or career in geoscience - or even take classes in geoscience - is often influenced by their perceptions of geoscience careers. A recent study (Sherman-Morris and McNeal, 2016) found that "the geosciences scored lower than other science subjects with respect to student perceptions in its ability to help the environment, help society, help them find a job, and salary. This was true for each of the geoscience fields measured when compared with every other science, technology, engineering, and math fields measured with the exception of physics." Obviously, these perceptions make geoscience less appealing to many students. But are they accurate? Let's consider each of these perceptions. More
Carol Dweck's research on mindset provided extraordinary insights into the learning process. Her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, is well worth reading. But, knowing that nobody has the time to read every great book, here's a too-brief summary of her findings and a few links to related web resources that she and her colleagues have developed.
What Carol Dweck found is that a person's mindset is the strongest factor affecting their ability to learn. Let that sink in for a minute. Mindset has more impact on learning than general intelligence does. Here's why. More