Michigan Change Agent Team
Andrea Bair, Delta College
Wendy Baker, Delta College
Description of Program Work
Our main goal is to build conceptual connections between traditionally distinct sciences within our courses. We aim to improve teaching effectiveness and student learning, and enhance course relevance. We also want to identify and engage interested students in the geosciences and related fields as career options, both inside and outside the classroom.
We recognize that students learn a small portion of what we teach in each course, and want to capitalize on "crossover concepts" that are taught in multiple courses but often not in a coordinated way. We also want students to see how the basic science they are learning applies to their region and in their everyday lives. To accomplish these goals, we will develop and implement case studies centering on Great Lakes regional issues, develop curricular materials focusing on "crossover concepts" and their application in everyday life, develop opportunities for students to explore geoscience in the field and at potential transfer institutions, and provide access to diverse examples of geoscientists.
2018 Workshop (development pages)
Spring Follow-on Activities
Andrea's background is in vertebrate paleontology and Cenozoic sedimentary geology of the Great Plains. In her post-doc at the Carl Wieman-led Science Education Initiative at the University of Colorado, she worked with faculty as they adapted new teaching strategies into their courses. Two of her most memorable field experiences are rescuing a very young wild foal from being stuck in a muddy watering hole in New Mexico, and brushing up against the fur of a coyote as their paths converged walking through canyons in the badlands of western Nebraska. She is particularly interested in teaching innovations that make science fun, unintimidating, and meaningful on a local scale and/or in everyday life. Andrea contributed a teaching demonstration "Connecting magma formation, origin of crust, and the meaning behind igneous rocks using research-based diagrams, analogies, and games in physical geology" to the 2016 Earth Educators Rendezvous.
Andrea teaches Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Environmental Geology, Geology of Michigan, Earthquakes & Volcanoes, and field geology courses such as Geology of Rivers and Geology of Northern Michigan.
Wendy has written her own own Environmental Science Laboratory Manual and has developed GIS courses for Delta College. She surveyed and mapped wildlife units for the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge using their GIS program.
Wendy teaches Environmental Science, Principles of Biology, Winter Ecology, Stream Ecology, Birds of Michigan, Plant Communities, and Trees and Shrubs of Michigan.
Institution: Delta College is located north of Saginaw, Michigan and has over 12,000 students. Nearly two-thirds of the students attend part-time and 31% of Delta's students are older than 24 years.
Geoscience program: The geoscience program at Delta is is part of the Science and Mathematics Division; faculty are spread across the Biology discipline and the Physical Sciences discipline where "Discipline" is basically the organizational unit at the department level. Students in the program are typically looking for an Associate's degree or certificate in Environmental Technology, Water Environmental Technology (WET) for the purpose of qualification to work in a variety of fields. Many other students use our courses as electives for Natural Science in pursuing other degrees or for transfer to 4-year institutions. Delta has 50-75 students/year in Environmental Science courses and ~100 students/year in Geology courses. Delta does not have "Majors", but does have programs and has been developing pre-major tracks for transfer students. The geoscience program has 6 full-time and 6-8 adjuncts instructors as well as lab technicians who support us in Biology and Geology/Geography. Delta offers classes in GIS, Physical and Historical Geology, Oceanography, Meteorology, Environmental Science, Physical Geography and Water Environment Technology.
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.