Regional Network Development

Goals for changes in the regional network

  • Build new connections between geoscience educators at Western Washington 2-year colleges. In particular, provide support and professional development for adjunct instructors and colleagues working at small institutions who may feel more isolated.
  • Build a network that allows participants to share experiences, resources, and evidence-based practices around teaching.


We led a full-day professional development workshop in winter 2019 on building community for student success. As part of the recruitment for the workshop, we developed a contact list of geoscience instructors from more than ten two-year colleges in western Washington. The workshop agenda split the time between professional development activities and time for networking and idea sharing. We introduced and modeled effective active learning strategies and provided time for instructors to develop and share ideas. We shared student success and diversity data from our own institution to emphasize both the need for broadening participation in the geosciences and to demonstrate the value of looking closely at the information available to us. Our data showed a success and enrollment gap between some minority groups and the variability that can exist between courses. We followed this with a gallery walk to brainstorm and share strategies used to create more inclusive classrooms. After discussing inclusive practices, we followed up with a group discussion around the "Hopes, Fears, Barriers and Catalysts" we face as we work to create lasting changes.


The workshop was attended by nine instructors representing three different institutions. Seven of those nine instructors were adjunct instructors, which advanced our goal to provide professional development for adjunct instructors. Several colleagues from additional institutions responded to the registration emails to say they could not attend the workshop but with hope to attend in the future. This supports the idea that there is interest in continuing to develop a regional network in this area.

Among the workshop attendees, each instructor left the classroom with an idea for at least one new activity they would implement in their courses. Several emailed after the workshop to give positive feedback on how the new activity worked in their classes.

Our work to create a regional network is still in its infancy, and more work is needed to increase the number and strength of connections. However, we can say that new connections were made between instructors attending the workshop. We saw evidence of new or stronger connections between colleagues from different departments within our institution (Bellevue College). Since the workshop, those colleagues have approached us more than before, sharing ideas and asking for input on challenges they face. We also saw new connections made with the instructors from the other two institutions, who joined our community that day and left with contact information and potential collaborators.