Improving student success and retention are at the forefront of institution-wide goals at Delta College. Like many other colleges and universities in the US, we are dealing with declining enrollment, and strategizing about our future is happening at all levels. The SAGE 2YC strand of supporting success of geoscience students aligns very well with our current institutional focus. Because of our professional development and work, I (Andrea) have been a part of larger discussions and activities investigating and planning future college-wide initiatives.
I (Andrea) have been a part of one of Delta's "+One" faculty discussion group over the last several months, discussing and working to enact strategies for improving student success, persistence, and retention modeled by Odessa College, sometimes referred to as "Four Pillars". The "pillars" for faculty are: 1) interact with students by name, 2) engage with students outside of class time, 3) help students regularly monitor their progress, and 4) be a "master of paradox" in setting high expectations for students but allowing flexibility given an individual's situation. For the most part I've shared strategies for developing student self-efficacy. Some of our work, such as student course goal-setting worksheets, was shared with the entire faculty during professional development activities this Winter.
In May, I (Andrea) attended a sharing session with several administrators and faculty in which a team reported what they learned from a field trip and consultation with Odessa College earlier this semester, facilitated by an "Achieving the Dream" coach hired by Delta College to help guide us in promoting student success and retention. Our SAGE 2YC professional development, strategies we've implemented, and our focus on student success is well-aligned with college-wide initiatives (the "Four Pillars" as a starting point) that will be given greater emphasis here at Delta in the near future, and I was able to provide another voice in the conversation that was valued by administrators. Exactly how this work will be translated into college-wide initiatives is in progress, and while I'm not part of that team at the moment, I have been invited to participate in other future activities and leadership roles at the college level. One effort that is expected to go forward starting campus-wide this fall is reporting student success data to instructors, much as we have been doing in SAGE 2YC.
We plan to partner with our Faculty Center for Teaching Excellence to offer some short professional development sessions related to supporting all students and developing subject identity. We keep our division members updated on our project and encourage them to join us during workshops and other meetings to encourage student success, especially around our key "crossover concepts."
We have engaged in several conversations with faculty of other disciplines who share certain concepts we call "crossover concepts" and have begun to integrate some ideas into the classroom. One of our chemistry colleagues at Delta (Bernadette Harkness) has requested some ideas on "real life" examples she can use for teaching certain concepts such as pH and I (Wendy) have requested some more connection with the chemistry of pH and how it affects solutions. So, in addition to teaching the basics of pH in my classes I have revised my lab to include more of the chemistry and real life examples (freshwater of the Great Lakes) as a fundamental concept. We are excited to build on this in this crossover concept and others like it. I (Andrea) have used a atmosphere/water interaction pH activity in oceanography that Wendy and Bernadette also use in their courses. Recently Bernadette adapted and extended an activity that demonstrates the impact of acid rain on lakes, the buffering effect of adding lime, and the impact of acid rain on different building materials using petri dishes. While the activity was developed as a few minute hands-on demo for the general public and used at a STEM outreach event, it is very adaptable for classroom use in introductory level chemistry, environmental science, and environmental geology courses. It is inspiring to interact in such a way as well; we are always motivated after meetings and seeing new ideas that we could incorporate into our teaching.