Initial Publication Date: September 24, 2020

Provide Real-World Geoscience Experiences

Real-world experiences have been shown to yield significant positive results in terms of student learning, persistence in the geosciences, and career preparedness (Nagda et al., 1998; Ishiyama, 2002; Lopatto, 2007; Hurtado et al., 2007, 2009). Research experiences, learning in the field, and internships are great ways to provide students with experience doing what geoscientists do.

Facilitate Internships for Students

Internships offer opportunities for students to get a taste of what it's like to work as a geoscientist and for companies to attract motivated students who may turn into employees. They also offer opportunities for departments and employers to forge mutually beneficial relationships by taking an active role in ensuring graduates have skills that the companies need.

  • The Building Strong Geoscience Departments project has advice for departments that want to institute or improve internship programs.
North Carolina
The North Carolina team has worked on providing paid research internship opportunities for their students by creating a partnership with North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, supported by grants from the National Science Foundation. Wake Tech students who have an interest in geoscience are provided with both mentoring and an opportunity to conduct meaningful research.
Southern California 1
As part of developing their geotechnical certificate, the Southern California 1 team developed relationships with many employers in their area which has increased the number of internships available to interested students.


Hurtado, S., Cabrera, N.L., Lin, M.H., Arellano, L., and Espinosa, L.L. 2009. Diversifying science: Underrepresented student experiences in structured research programs. Research in Higher Education, 50(2):189–214.

Hurtado, S., Eagan, M.K., Cabrera, N.L., Lin, M.H., Park, J., and Lopez, M. 2007. Training future scientists: Predicting first year minority student participation in health science research. Research in Higher Education, 49(2):126–152.

Ishiyama, J. 2002. Does early participation in undergraduate research benefit social science and humanities students? College Student Journal, 36(3):380–387.

Lopatto, D. 2007. Undergraduate research experiences support science career decisions and active learning. CBE–Life Sciences Education, 6(4):297–306.

Nagda, B.A., Gregerman, S.R., Jonides, J., Von Hippel, W., and Lerner, J.S. 1998. Undergraduate student–faculty research partnerships affect student retention. Review of Higher Education, 22(1):55–72.

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