Goals for change at the program/department level
Goal 1: To better support the success of all students.
Goal 2: Integrate activities focusing on developing students' science identity, facilitating students' professional development and career pathways, broadening participation in the geosciences into courses and extracurricular efforts, and emphasizing how major concepts cross over between disciplines.
Goal 3: Develop a community of college-level instructors of environmentally-focused courses interested in incorporating crossover concepts and environmentally relevant issues into their curriculum.
Below we describe our strategies/activities and outcomes to date for each goal.
Goal 1: Support student success in environmentally-related courses
Our strategies for supporting student success include revising student learning outcomes, and instructional practices and include course materials focusing on key courses Environmental Science, Environmental Geology and Oceanography.
We have three main areas of focus in supporting student success: supporting the whole student, supporting student self-regulated learning, and scaffolding course activities to support student conceptual understanding and scientific skill development. Wendy redesigned lab activities to focus on data interpretation and representation with scaffolding and redesigned (tweaked) a key conceptual lab to encourage connection to other courses and real life environmental issues.
I (Andrea) have implemented several types of activities to support students' self-regulated learning, including think-pair-share and team-based activities, retrieval practice exercises, sorting and organizing activities, exam wrappers, student surveys, and interventions/activities supporting productive study strategies. I have also been a part of a group of faculty at Delta working to enact strategies found successful by Odessa College, sometimes referred to as "Four Pillars": 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" when setting high expectations for students but allowing flexibility given life situations. I have also been working on supporting students in their whole lives. The strongest connection with strategies we've been working on with SAGE 2YC seems to be supporting the whole student, although there is notable overlap with several other areas and strategies.
I (Andrea) have been successively implementing more activities that develop self-regulated learning in my classes, including student goal-setting and self-assessment worksheets and follow-up private discussions with students to support their goals. Thus far, I anecdotally observe more students utilizing effective study strategies, and an increase in student persistence and success (fewer students withdraw, more students succeed after an interruption in the course, and more students having passing grades). Mid-semester student surveys using the SALG suggest an improvement in student satisfaction with the course.
I (Andrea) have also been working to better "signpost" or deliberately signal and emphasize integrative concepts that are revisited multiple times in courses, especially in Physical Geology. Previously I restructured the order of concepts and activities such that rock units are integrated in larger sections (igneous rocks with plate tectonics and volcanoes, sedimentary rocks with surface processes, and metamorphic rocks with deformation and geologic structures) as well as using geologic time concepts as a capstone unit to support students integrating concepts used throughout the course. I've revised this somewhat, and reduced or eliminated concepts and activities appearing only once in the course.
I (Wendy) have revised two major investigative outdoor lab activities in Environmental Science to include more targeted responses from students. The goal is to increase the students' success in analyzing and presenting data collected and connect their findings to concepts learned in the classroom setting. I have several lab experiences related to soil and water analysis. Students really enjoy collecting samples but the analysis and interpretation part of it is where we have to take the "deep dive." I have developed a more focused question/answer worksheet format to help with making this work for them. My hope is to increase overall student success, increased critical thinking skills, and improve my teaching techniques.
Goal 2: Integrate activities focusing on: developing students' science identity, facilitating students' professional development and career pathways, broadening participation in the geosciences, and emphasizing how major concepts cross over between disciplines.
I (Andrea) have been incorporating more activities supporting students' science identities and broadening participation in my courses, including developing Scientist Spotlight reflection activities for two courses, with plans to develop more for other courses. I have been more specifically discussing what geologists and scientists do, including my own background.
Andrea has also developed a Guided Pathway for a B.S. in Geology that has gone through program revision, and is currently about 80% complete.
I (Wendy) have been more pro-active in encouraging students to become members of our environmental club. I am also more focused on students awareness of their own control over their intellectual development. I am incorporating scientist spotlights into my courses to encourage students to "see themselves" as the scientist.
We have each developed new in-class activities and interactive demonstrations, as well as lab activities focusing on crossover concepts. For example, we, along with chemistry and biology colleagues, developed and implemented an activity showing how fresh water pH lowers when carbon dioxide gas is added. Our chemistry colleagues in particular have made strides on developing learning materials integrating chemistry concepts with real-world contexts, and we look forward to engaging with them more actively in the future.
In Winter 2019, we started running two optional and low-cost half-day out of class events for geology and environmental science students and guests, one to a professional talk at a regional 4-year college for their seminar series, and another field trip to visit local rock outcrops.
Implementing Scientist Spotlights definitely has added a personal element to my (Andrea's) class discussions; students seem to really be inspired by the individual stories expressed in blogs and interviews, and identify with challenges non-traditional scientists faced in the course of their education and career development. Students also express surprise in what "counts as science," and their views of what scientists do and how scientific knowledge is developed seem to have expanded. I have not specifically surveyed students formally or informally about the impacts, but as I develop more spotlights and learn between how to incorporate them into my courses, I will definitely be measuring their impacts.
Approximately 20 students and guests participated in one or both of the out-of-class activities we supported in Winter 2019. We did not formally collect feedback from participants, but did hear from several that they found the activity interesting, fun, and/or informative, as well as neat to hear about or experience what we'd been working on in class in different contexts. We plan to continue offering two experiences each semester, and are seeking models and funding to cover or support transportation costs (each requires about a 80 mile drive each way.)
Goal 3: Develop a community of faculty to share strategies and ideas implementing environmentally-relevant components to undergraduate curricula.
Thus far, we have been sharing our learning and forming communities both informally and formally (in a workshop setting.)
We have been informally sharing ideas and strategies within our department with chemistry and biology colleagues, and our community has developed some common activities. We also have periodically joined our colleague's courses for field trips or specific activities, and have better connected with students through our shared activities and experiences. Andrea has also been participating in the "Four Pillars" faculty discussion groups described above, and has been a part of that community.
Our first workshop was held on May 11, 2019. We felt our first steps at sharing what we've learned with the larger community and developing greater communication and ties with our peers was successful! (see more below)
In May, I (Andrea) attended a sharing session with several administrators and faculty in which a team shared 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.
Our first workshop was on May 11, as mentioned above, and included 2YC faculty from 7 colleges across the state of Michigan. Several other faculty were unable to attend, but indicated strong interest in being part of a community of fellow educators. We felt our first steps at sharing what we've learned with the larger community and developing greater communication and ties with our peers was successful! We found areas of common interest, and simply finding and communicating with other 2YC geoscientists (often the sole faculty in their disciplines at their colleges), so developing and maintaining a peer community is a valued by many. An interesting observation was that of 5 faculty participants who teach geology in tenure-track positions, all are women and are the sole full-time geology faculty in their programs.
We have been keeping our division members updated on our project and the workshop activities. Two of our chemistry faculty attended the May 11 workshop.
We also invited two of our administrators, our Division's Associate Dean as well as the College President, both of whom were able to attend portions of our workshop. This allowed them to see our work and how it can contribute to college initiatives and goals. We received positive feedback from both and the President highlighted our workshop as a faculty contribution to Delta at the next Delta College Board Meeting.