D.C. Metro Area Change Agent Team

Callan Bentley
Caitlin Chazen
Marla Morales
Northern Virginia Community College
Initial Publication Date: September 26, 2017


Our goal is to boost the efficacy and engagement of the NOVA geoscience program. We seek to increase student awareness of the geoscience courses that we offer and to establish a system allowing for more interaction and communication between current and former geoscience students, geoscience staff, and college administrators. A critical part of this initiative is aimed at increasing student involvement and participation, particularly from underrepresented groups.

Individually, we have restructured our classrooms and curricula to incorporate more active learning strategies, metacognitive practices and inclusive teaching methods. Together, we have worked to build relationships between geology faculty and academic advisors, broaden geoscience exposure on campus and build our regional community through workshops. Looking forward, we intend to create a sharable field trip database, organize a seminar series and establish an alumni network.


We recognize that our teaching and our department are emblematic of larger trends in 2YC college education. We agree that the status quo isn't good enough, and we want to change it. We seek to boost geoscience literacy in the community we serve and to make sure that's as evenly distributed as possible across all populations, including those traditionally underrepresented in the geosciences. We hope that by fostering a more inclusive classroom environment, implementing active learning strategies and expanding awareness about geoscience on campus we will see a fundamental shift in the makeup of our geology department.

In terms of geological resources and the destabilization of the planet's cryosphere and climate system, the need has never been more urgent. The most important time in the history of the human species is the few decades in which we find ourselves doing this important work. If we do our job right, the next generation of geoscientists and geoscience-literate citizens looks more like the vibrant, multinational community we serve in the DC area, as it should be. Geological understanding should be available to all Earthlings.

Aligning with Institutional Priorities

The College's strategic plan is summarized with the motto, "Every student succeeds. Every program achieves. Every community prospers." Our thinking with regard to geology is entirely congruent with our institution's goals. One particular focus at the College level is enabling successful completion of the degree. Many of the engagement and success strategies we are employing in the classroom play directly into that goal, and are applicable in other classes beyond geology. The College's officially articulated vision is to be a learning-centered organization that promotes student success. This is our mission, too, specifically as it applies to the Earth sciences.

Table of Contents

Individual Growth and Development »
Program/Department Development »
Institutional Development »
Regional Network Development »
Making and Sustaining Change »
Team and Institutional Context »

Team Activities

Regional Workshops

Regional Workshop 1, Summer 2019
Field trips to engage students in science

Regional Workshop 2, TBD, Fall 2019
Topic: Striving for equity rather than equality in our classroom, to be held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

Campus Presentations

'Establishing an Inclusive Classroom Environment' January, 2019 at NOVA's 'Power Up Your Pedagogy' workshop.

'Fostering a more inclusive student workspace' June, 2019 at the Diversity in the Workspace Conference for Learning and Technology Resources' Annual Development Day.

'Using Metacognition to Enhance Learning', October 5th, 2019 at NOVA's Power Up Your Pedagogy Adjunct Conference.

This project description is part of a collection documenting work by teams of two-year college faculty to implement high-impact, evidence-based instructional and co-curricular practices at their own institutions in pursuit of improved STEM learning, broadened participation, and a more robust STEM workforce.Explore the whole collection »

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