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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: Moving Toward a Student-Centered Classroom


Posted: Dec 13 2018 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

Students learn more in student-centered classrooms (e.g., Lawson et al., 2002; MacIsaac and Falconer, 2002). Furthermore, student-centered teaching reduces achievement gaps across student sub-populations (Teasdale et al., 2017, and references therein). But what, exactly, makes a classroom "student-centered"? And what can you do to move your classroom further toward the student-centered end of the spectrum?

One measure of the "student-centered-ness" (not a real word) of a classroom is the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP). As the name implies, this is an observational protocol, and it comes with a rubric for observing what happens in a classroom. Just as students can use a rubric to self-assess their coursework, you can use the RTOP rubric to self-assess your classroom teaching. And, just as students can use a rubric to make adjustments to their work before turning it in to you, you can make adjustments to your classroom teaching based on the elements of the RTOP rubric. More

SAGE Musings: Addressing Implicit Bias in STEM


Posted: Nov 29 2018 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

Implicit biases are unconscious, negative associations or stereotypes. As I described in my last SAGE Musing, implicit bias is pervasive in STEM, profoundly impacting the experiences of anyone who belongs to groups that are underrepresented in the STEM disciplines. Moreover, being a member of an underrepresented group does not make one immune to these biases; we ALL have them (Ashburn-Nardo, 2018). Fortunately, there are evidence-based strategies and resources we can all use to identify and mitigate implicit biases. In October, 2018, I attended a series of four webinars, produced by the CIRTL network, about implicit biases. In this Musing, I highlight strategies to identify and address implicit biases. More

SAGE Musings: Implicit Bias in STEM


Posted: Nov 8 2018 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

Unconscious, negative associations or stereotypes are called implicit biases. Extensive research has documented that implicit bias is pervasive in STEM, that it negatively impacts the participation and success of people who belong to demographic groups underrepresented in STEM (women, underrepresented minorities, people with disabilities, and others), and that even those of us who belong to underrepresented groups have implicit biases. Fortunately, there are evidence-based strategies and resources we can all use to identify and mitigate implicit biases. In October, 2018, I attended a series of four webinars, produced by the CIRTL network, about implicit biases. This Musing outlines how pervasive implicit biases are in STEM; I'll follow up with a future Musing about how to identify and address implicit biases. More

SAGE Musings: NO-vember and the NO-lympics


Posted: Oct 25 2018 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

I've written before about the fact that "time management" is really task management, and task management is really about knowing when to say "no." Today I want to explore that idea a bit further and describe two approaches that I have found to be useful: NO-vember and the NO-lympics. More

SAGE Musings: Who Has the Capacity to Succeed in STEM?


Posted: Oct 11 2018 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

I had an epiphany many years ago. It was in a workshop for geoscience faculty members in their first few years of teaching. One of the workshop leaders told us about a study conducted by Uri Treisman at the University of California, Berkeley. He had noticed that the minority students in his calculus course performed considerably better (Asian students) or considerably worse (Black and Hispanic students) than White students. Rather than assuming that this was a function of their ability to learn calculus, he set out to find out why. And find out he did. It wasn't about their capacity to learn calculus; it was about their study habits. More

SAGE Musings: Using Exams to Promote Deep Learning


Posted: Sep 27 2018 by Christopher DiLeonardo, De Anza College

Over my years of teaching, I have learned two lessons:

  1. We don't teach; students learn. All real learning is active and a biologic process that occurs in the brain. What we do is create educational environments and experiences that foster learning.
  2. Though we should never teach to the test, (most) students learn to the test.

In my Introductory Geology class, I leverage these lessons to engage my students in deep learning via case-based, partially collaborative, multiple-choice exams. I know that using multiple-choice exams to promote deep learning might sound impossible. Bear with me; let me describe how this model works for me and show you some examples, and you can judge for yourself. More

SAGE Musings: Making the Most of Office Hours


Posted: Sep 13 2018 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

Do you ever wish that your students would take better advantage of your office hours? Do they apologize to you for "interrupting" on those rare occasions when they do come to your office, even during office hours? Some students feel that going to a professor's office hours is both an admission that they are struggling with the course material and an imposition on the professor's valuable time (Freishtat, 2017). Most faculty members I know find this frustrating, both because they would like to know when students don't understand the course material and because helping a student understand the course material is one of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching. What can you do to encourage more of your students to take advantage of your office hours? More

SAGE Musings: 2018 Summer Reading


Posted: Jul 5 2018 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

As many of you know, 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 project leaders and participants for summer reading recommendations, and here they are.... Some are directly related to our SAGE 2YC project, while others are more generally related to geoscience. More

SAGE Musings: Highlights from a Field Safety Course


Posted: Jun 7 2018 by Kristie Bradford, Lone Star College – Tomball

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

SAGE Musings: Fostering A Broader Network of Geoscientists Through Career Mentoring Workshops


Posted: May 24 2018 by Karen Layou, Reynolds Community College

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

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