SAGE 2YC > Change Agent Teams > Florida Change Agent Team

Florida Change Agent Team

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Karen Braley, Daytona State College
Debra Woodall, Daytona State College

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Purpose Statement

We are developing a model that may be used by other Florida 2YCs to increase recruitment and retention rates of students enrolled in geoscience majors. In meeting with State requirements and guidelines unique to the State of Florida, this multifaceted model utilizes research-based strategies that include (1) creating relationships with and opportunities for high school students and faculty; (2) increasing student sense of belonging and interactions with peers, faculty and the scientific community; (3) utilizing effective classroom pedagogy and developing challenging course content; (4) providing students with opportunities to experience research, career practices and professional development opportunities; and (5) developing support systems for geoscience majors to successfully make the transition to 4-year colleges and/or enter into the geoscience workforce.

Progress to Date

The multifaceted efforts created to increase student recruitment and retention rates along with their research-based strategies include the following:

  • Gen-ed Geoscience Courses: Many of the geoscience courses were redesigned to include active-learning strategies, expose students to diversity amongst and research conducted by geoscientists, and provide information about geoscience career opportunities.
  • Geoscience Lab: A lab was created specifically for students enrolled in geoscience majors and designed based on active-learning strategies. The goals are to provide them with opportunities to experience career practices, develop an undergraduate research project, work with professional mentors, boost their intellectual self-confidence, and make them more competitive for transfer to a 4YC. Students learn to communicate their science by writing entries on our science Blogspot. Student recognition and lab activities are shared on our Facebook page.
  • Website and Major-based Education Plans: A team of DSC Student Advisors was employed to create Education Plans based on transferring-university requirements for each geoscience major. These Education Plans, along with information about transferring Universities, are easily accessible to current and future students on our webpage.
  • Faculty Peer Mentoring Experience for Marine and Environmental Science Majors (SLS1127): This 0-credit, Geoscience Orientation Course is required for all geoscience majors. Students establish a mentoring relationship with geoscience faculty, interact with their peers, and are introduced to major requirements, professional opportunities and college resources.
  • Student Advisor Training:Student advisors were invited to an event meant to offer instructions about the geoscience majors we now offer, the Education Plans and the value of enrolling students in the Geoscience Orientation and Lab.
  • ShORE: SHaring Our Research with Everyone on the Indian River Lagoon is an event where high school and undergraduate students present STEM research proposals and findings in a collaborative setting that foster mentoring relationships with educational institutions and scientists.
  • TRiO: A Geoscience Day with multiple hands-on activities was created for students enrolled in a Federal outreach and student services program designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds including eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.
  • Arts & Sciences Colloquium: this is a new event created to allow students the opportunity to showcase their spring-semester research to the college-wide community. Many students that participate in this event choose to continue with their research and enroll in OCE2905--Special Topics in Oceanography. This course is taught in the fall which then funnels students' into presenting their research at the ShORE event.

Data are currently being collected to access the effectiveness of each of these efforts in meeting our purpose and goals.

Work Going Forward

Moving forward, we'd like to create 'spin-off' events associated with the required student orientation (SLS1127). While the orientation proved to be very successful, we realized that more could be accomplished to enhance student's sense of belonging if we created events that continued to engage student cohorts. These events may include a family movie night, student speaker series and opportunities to visit transferring universities.

To increase student retention rates, we hope to expand undergraduate research opportunities within the geosciences. This will include an effort to engage other geoscience faculty in understanding how to conduct undergraduate research with their students. We also hope to share the recruitment and retention strategies that we have learned during the SAGE workshops with other faculty by hosting department- and college-wide events.

Faculty and students advisors will also be educated about the education plans created as a part of our guided pathways efforts. For example, if a student is interested in majoring in marine science, faculty and student advisors simply need to show students the marine science website and then click on Marine Science Education Plan, which will provide students with an accurate guide of courses required for transfer to a 4YC. This page also provides students with links to universities offering their major of interest.

Shark tagging was created as a means of offering new research opportunities for our students. Permits were secured to capture sharks, record initial data about species, location, sex, length, etc. and then sharks are tagged and released. The tags include information about our research in hopes that the captor would contact us with the shark's current location, weight, length, etc. To increase community knowledge of geoscience opportunities at our college, we are going to expand our shark-tagging research to include a citizen science aspect where any local fisher-person can contribute to our data pool. To accomplish this, we hope to partner with our engineering department to create a smart-phone app that would allow quick and easy access to shark identification information and tagging-data upload. We think that this effort will increase our visibility to the community and, hopefully, increase recruitment into our geoscience program.

Team Activities

Fall Workshops

2016 Workshop
November 4, 2016, Daytona State College Institute of Marine and Environmental Studies

2017-18 Workshop
February 16, 2018

2018 Workshop
October 26, 2018, Institute of Marine and Environmental Studies, Daytona State College

Spring Follow-on Activities

Spring 2017 Event
April 28, 2017

Team Members

Karen Braley

Karen is a professor at Daytona State College in the School of Biological and Physical Sciences. She is completing a dissertation in education assessment and evaluation that focuses on evaluating programs in higher education. Her background is in pharmacology and toxicology and she is interested in applied biochemistry in both the environment and the body.


Karen teaches Introduction to Chemistry, Biology 1 for Majors, Non-Majors Biology, Microbiology, Chemistry lab, Microbiology lab, and Biology lab.

Debra Woodall

Since joining the faculty at Daytona State College in 2008, Debra has helped to develop most of the geoscience curriculum at the College. In 2010, she founded the Institute of Marine and Environmental Studies and is its Director. She recently partnered with professional and community organizations to help create the College's first undergraduate research symposium.


Debra teaches Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Oceanography, Aquatic Environmental Science, and Coastal Ocean Studies in Biogeochemistry.


Daytona State College

Institution: Daytona State College has 6 campuses in and around Daytona Beach, located in east Central Florida. While it offers a few Bachelor's degrees, it is mostly a Associates degree granting institution. It serves over 20,000 students annually, of whom 61% are women, 8% are under 18, 42% are more than 24 years old, and 13% are Black. Five percent of their students are registered as having a disability.

Geoscience program: The geoscience program at Daytona State College has 2 full-time and 2 adjunct faculty. It offers courses in Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Oceanography, Meteorology, and Environmental Science. The Institute of Marine and Environmental Studies (IMES) is a part of the School of Biological and Physical Sciences and has almost 150 students seeking an AS degree in Environmental Science Technology or AA Transfer Track degrees in either Marine Science, Marine Biology, Environmental Science, or Ocean Engineering. Most students enroll in geoscience courses at DSC to complete their general education requirements; total enrollment in these courses typically exceeds 600 annually.

Institutional demographic data is from IPEDS, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, U.S. Department of Education, typically for the 2014-15 year as available.

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