Our primary goals have been to:
- improve student success in our disciplines (geology and environmental sciences);
- enhance engagement and course relevance by building conceptual connections between courses and by utilizing real-life environmental issues;
- identify and engage students interested in the geosciences and related fields as career options, both inside and outside the classroom;
- build a network of Michigan 2YC science faculty to support each other in achieving these goals.
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 are tapping into student interest in environmental issues in the Great Lakes region, developing curricular materials focusing on "crossover concepts" and their application in everyday life, developing opportunities for students to explore geoscience in the field and at potential transfer institutions, and providing access to diverse examples of geoscientists.
Our initial motivation was a way to coordinate our instructional approaches to concepts we each teach in different science courses, with the goal of giving students opportunities to see connections between disciplines, and potentially work with locally-collected and relevant environmental and geological data. While working towards this, we wanted to make sure we were using evidence-based instructional approaches, supporting learning for all students, and focusing on the needs of our 2YC students.
Our college, programs, and disciplines are currently undergoing major transitions. As enrollment declines at the state, college, and program level, we are focusing more on student success and retention than in the past. At the same time, we recognize our students are engaged with and concerned about environmental quality and sustainability of our Great Lakes state and with its natural resources and features.
2YC faculty in our disciplines (geology and environmental sciences) in Michigan are often the only full-time tenure track person in their department, which can be challenging and isolating, as well as offering some positive aspects. Developing a community of faculty sharing our goals for our students fills a community need.
Our motivation for pursuing these goals has grown from a mutual concern we have discussed many times in the past. The SAGE 2YC program seemed a good way to meet our needs both by fleshing out our ideas and coming up with concrete ways to address them. SAGE 2YC provided us with a framework and a lot of support to help our students and hopefully encourage more students to see themselves as part of our geoscience community.
Aligning with Institutional Priorities
Our project directly supports Delta College's strategic initiatives. The Four Strategic Focal Areas of Delta College (Delta College Strategic Plan and Budget, 2018-2019, p.22) are:
- Student Success: Promoting success for all student in the classroom and in life
- Community Focus: Understanding and responding to our communities' needs
- Sustainability: Using all resources in an efficient and sustainable way
- People Focus: Respecting and growing our people personally, professionally and organizationally
Currently, Delta's student success goal is a big part of college initiatives, and will be for the near future. Our efforts at promoting success for all students in our courses dovetail with emerging college-wide initiatives. As we have been working with SAGE 2YC we have focused on students to improve learning, especially with "crossover concepts" in the classroom. We are also interested in the students learning about real life issues in our community and finally we plan to share this with educators in our region and hear their ideas and goals for geoscience students as well. We are hoping to include as many students and teachers as we can who are from a variety of backgrounds. We look forward to creating a community of educators that will continue to share ideas, in this region.
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May 11, 2019