Houston Community College System Change Agent Team

Lorraine Carey, Natural Sciences/Geology
Robin Nagy, Natural Sciences/Geology

Team Activities

Individual Accomplishments

Lorraine Carey

I have:

  • Included a "Scientist Spotlight" on my course home pages, and to my delight have had a couple of students ask for more!! 
  • Used several active learning strategies in my online courses and discovered that some work better than others, especially for asynchronous classes.  
  • Discussed strategies on using more active learning in our workshops.  

Next steps: I'd like to find ways to include more active learning in synchronous and asynchronous classes, and I want to explore some "gradeless" opportunities.

Robin Nagy

I have:

  • Implemented exercises to increase student sense of belonging in my own courses
  • Created more engaging content for my online courses, and restructured collaborative assignments for the online environment 
  • Shared knowledge & tools with other faculty in the natural sciences

Next steps: Start a repository of resources for Environmental Science (via canvas)

Team Accomplishments

Strengthening our Department/Program

Accomplishments/Action Plan:

Our needs were revised to reflect the transition to online learning following the onset of the pandemic.

Our goal of growing the active learning community of practice at our institution was accomplished in that we laid out the groundwork via workshops, but there is much room for continued growth.

We successfully implemented two workshops, and hope to actively maintain that momentum next semester. We did not fully implement a digital repository, that is our next step.

Next Steps: add active learning resources & lesson plans to canvas commons (and make faculty aware of resources)

Developing our Campus Community

Engaging our Colleagues:

Our first workshop was attended by several faculty who self-assessed as having little knowledge of relationship between active learning and inclusivity.  

Workshop 1 was attended by 12 faculty from HCC and Lonestar CC, workshop 2 was attended by 6 faculty. Evidence of success includes enthusiasm for continued meetings, requests for resources, and feedback.

Next Steps: General 2020 chaos has made clear the value of resources and communication outside of the traditional workshops, we hope to grow some alternatives in the future

Team Members

Lorraine Carey

Lorraine writes, "I am interested in all aspects of the Earth Sciences - observations, teaching, arguing, collecting....I am always looking for ways to share my enthusiasm for learning about the Earth with my students, and make learning more relevant (though I confess I'm not always successful)." In her previous life she spent 15 years in the oil and gas industry, where she participated in state-of-the-art research. She likes to share the variety of geologic settings and problems she experienced while working in industry to show real-world relevance. She also loves to collect rocks and fossils with her own children.


Lorraine teaches lecture portions of Environmental Science, Earth Science, Oceanography, and Meteorology including both face-to-face and online courses. She also teaches the lecture and lab portions of Physical Geology and Historical Geology, mainly in-person and sometimes in a hybrid format.

Robin Nagy

Robin teaches Geology, Earth Science, and Environmental Science to primarily non-science majors and has focused her instruction on engaging and empowering her students. She has developed a catalog of active learning exercises for Norton Publishing, designed curriculum specific to active learning spaces, and initiated a collaborative, project-based learning experience with the campus makerspace. Robin loves visiting geologically interesting locales, and often records in-situ selfie lectures for her students while traveling.


Robin teaches Geology, Earth Science, and Environmental Science. She is also the faculty coordinator for the HCC Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, an NSF-funded program to increase the minority participation in STEM degrees.


Houston Community College (HCC) serves more than 80,000 students per year from more than 6 main campuses and numerous satellite campuses in the greater Houston area. Less than half of their students are of traditional age (18-25 years old); 44% are older than 25. Twenty-eight percent of students are black/African-American and 34 percent are Hispanic/Latino. Twelve percent are international students.


Geology is combined with Physics in the Natural Sciences Department, along with some smaller specialized programs such as Horticulture and Technical Math. The Natural Sciences Department is part of the Life and Natural Sciences Division, along with the Chemistry Department and the Biology Department. Courses include Astronomy, Atmospheric Science, Earth System Science, Environmental Policy/Studies, Environmental Science, Geology, Oceanography, Physics, Horticulture and Landscape, and Technical Math.

Students in the Geology program come from a wide range of backgrounds. The faculty see a diversity of students who reflect the diversity of the college as a whole. Typical department enrollment is approximately 800 - 1000 students per semester. In Fall 2019, 839 students were enrolled in 47 sections of various Geology program courses (Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Oceanography, Environmental Science, Earth Science, and Meteorology). Most students take Geology program courses to complete what is known as Core Curriculum requirements for their degree or certificate program. Students who are transferring to a 4-year institution take their lab courses at HCC. They offer an A.S degree in Geology and currently have about 35-40 declared majors.

The Geology program has 7 full-time faculty and 10 adjunct faculty and shares 2 lab technicians with the Physics program.

Institutional demographic data is from IPEDS the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, U.S. Department of Education, typically for the 2018-19 year as available.