North Carolina Change Agent Team

Adrianne Leinbach
Gretchen Miller
Wake Tech Community College


Our focus is on supporting the academic success of all students. To this end, we are teaching students metacognitive strategies, fostering a growth mindset, increasing the level of active learning in our courses, and balancing "depth vs. breadth" of learning. In addition, we are working to broaden participation and facilitate professional pathways in geoscience through local partnerships that allow our students to participate in authentic research experiences, mentoring, and professional socialization.


Wake Tech is a very large community college, with a diverse student population. North Carolina has a statewide articulation agreement between the public two-year colleges and four-year colleges and universities. Recent statewide changes to the articulation agreement, as well as changes in placement measures and the development of structured pathways, has meant that students are taking our introductory science courses earlier, before completing their math and English courses. Therefore, we needed to implement practices to support these students in and out of the classroom so that they could be successful. The SAGE 2YC project has provided many opportunities for us to explore ways to support our students and help them be successful in our geoscience classes.

We have also been working with local partners to support students interested in geoscience careers, particularly students from groups that are underrepresented in geoscience. Most of the students in our introductory geology courses are not science majors, but there are a few students each year who decide to pursue a career in geoscience. Since 2012, we have partnered with North Carolina State University to provide summer research experiences for our potential geoscience majors. In 2017, we added more opportunities for our geoscience students by partnering with paleontologists at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. These partnerships have been supported through grant funding from the National Science Foundation. Additionally, we created an on-campus club for geoscience students in 2015, and the club is a student chapter of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists. All of these activities have benefited from the support we have received through the SAGE 2YC project.

Aligning with Institutional Priorities

The mission of Wake Tech Community College is to improve and enrich lives by meeting the lifelong education, training, and workforce development needs of the communities it serves; to promote individual success in the workplace and in higher education; and to increase entrepreneurship as well as cultural, social, and economic development. One of the primary college goals is to provide students with a safe and dynamic learning environment through policies, curricula, instruction, and support services that are responsive to their needs and focused on improving completion rates in programs that prepare them for employment or transfer to a four year institution. All of our work with the SAGE 2YC project has been aligned with this goal, by giving us tools to better support our students to successfully complete our courses, as well as their individual programs.

In addition to the broader goals of the college, the SAGE 2YC project has been aligned with the more specific goals of our department and division. All of the geology faculty in our department have worked together to improve student success in our geoscience classes by collecting data for many years, and using those data to develop targeted interventions to help our students learn the course material. The SAGE 2YC project has given us additional tools to both understand our various student populations better, and create better activities and assessments for our classes.

This project description is part of a collection documenting work by teams of two-year college faculty to implement high-impact, evidence-based instructional and co-curricular practices at their own institutions in pursuit of improved STEM learning, broadened participation, and a more robust STEM workforce.

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