Facilitating professional pathways in the Geosciences: Supporting Transfer


This workshop session is designed to deepen faculty members' knowledge of evidence-based strategies for supporting 2YC-4YCU transfer. The strategies highlighted in these materials are applicable across all STEM disciplines. A few of the materials refer to examples in geoscience, but could easily be adapted to other STEM fields. The workshop session is designed to take half a day and includes a presentation, exploration of example programs and their support strategies, small group discussions, and individual action planning.

Session goals

Participants will:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of the range of strategies that support 2YC-4YCU transfer;
  • Share their own examples of how to implement those strategies;
  • Develop their own action plan for supporting 2YC-4YCU transfer in their institutional and regional context.

Workshop session structure

When we used these materials in a workshop for geoscience faculty members (see the 2016 March Change Agents workshop program), we structured the session as follows. Details of the timing are listed below.

  1. We presented a brief summary of the goals and plan for the session (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 118kB Jul15 19). This summary reminded participants of the complex path many of our students travel on the way to their geoscience careers.
  2. Participants engaged in a jigsaw exploration and analysis of examples from our collection of NSF-funded GeoPaths projects with an emphasis on transfer. Part one of the jigsaw consists of reading one of the two pages linked below and comparing that example to a list of practices that support transfer (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 24kB Jul15 19). This document is a compilation of practices, cited in the research literature on transfer, that support 2YC-4YCU transfer. It is not an exhaustive list of all possible practices that make a difference or of examples of how to do them, but it is a list of evidence-based practices to help faculty who aren't familiar with the research literature on this topic. Part two of the jigsaw consists of pairing up with participants who have read the other example and discussing the strategies each of the GeoPaths projects is using. The examples we used were: We had participants start in groups of 3 for part one and join into groups of 6 for part two. It would also work well to have groups of 4 (part one) split in half and re-combine for part two. Or you could have participants read more than two examples (part one); our collection of examples has expanded significantly since March 2016. The key is to have discussion groups that are large enough to spark conversations and small enough that everyone can participate.
  3. Participants engaged in a gallery walk to share ideas for implementation of the practices, based on what they were already doing or were thinking of doing in the future.
    • We used seven posters for the gallery walk, which resulted in groups of three participants discussing each topic. Each poster listed one practice that supports transfer. Participants were asked to provide examples of how they implement (or could imagine implementing) that practice.
  4. Each faculty member reflected on the suite of strategies and made plans to expand their use of strategies for supporting transfer, using a checklist (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 19kB Jul15 19).
  5. Participants shared their plans with a larger group.


This entire sequence of activities took most of a morning in a multi-day workshop. We spent 5 minutes on the introduction to the session. The jigsaw took 55 minutes, after which we took a 15 minute break. The next 30 minutes was devoted to the gallery walk, followed by action planning (40 minutes) and sharing action plans (20 minutes). Details:

8:45-8:50 Short Introduction
8:50-9:45 Jigsaw exploration of the GeoPaths project descriptions:
10 minutes: Each participant reads a project description
20 minutes: Part 1: Small groups compare their project description to the list of practices that support transfer (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 24kB Jul15 19) and discuss
10 minutes: Part 2: new small groups compare notes on the different GeoPath project descriptions
15 minutes: Aggregate groups report out to the entire workshop: what ideas are they excited about, from the descriptions?

9:45-10:00 Break

10:00-10:30 Gallery walk, focused on strategies selected from the practices that support transfer (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 24kB Jul15 19)
10:30-11:10 Participants work individually on their action plans, using a checklist (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 19kB Jul15 19)
11:10-11:30 Participants each share their plans, either within a small group (seated at their table) or the overall workshop group

Additional resources

Since running this session in March 2016, we have expanded our collection of descriptions of NSF-funded GeoPaths projects with an emphasis on transfer. We recommend browsing this collection to see which examples are most relevant to your context.