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North Carolina Change Agent Team

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Adrianne Leinbach, Wake Tech Community College
Gretchen Miller, Wake Tech Community College

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Purpose Statement

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.

Progress to Date

We have been supporting the academic success of all students by introducing metacognitive strategies such as test wrappers and presentations on learning strategies, and utilizing more active learning techniques with in-class activities and more interactive discussion board activities for our online students. All of our geology faculty members are also involved in a project using backwards design to align our student learning objectives, activities, and assessments in our Introductory Geology course. We are broadening participation and facilitating professional pathways in geoscience by partnering with North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, who provide our students with paid summer research experiences and mentoring. The students who completed research projects have been provided additional opportunities present their research and serve as mentors to potential new students in the program.

Team Activities

Fall Workshops

2016 Workshop
Friday, October 14, 2016, Wake Tech Community College

2017 Workshop
Saturday, November 18, 2017, Wake Tech Community College

Spring Follow-on Activities

Spring 2017 Event
April 21, 2017

Team Members

Adrianne Leinbach

Adrianne has taught completely online since 2009. She is always searching for new ways to reach her students and loves to hear what works for other people; as an example of this, she uses an iPad to make informative and fun videos for her online class.


Adrianne teaches Intro Physical Geology (online).

Gretchen Miller

Gretchen is a Professor and served as the Geology Lead at Wake Tech from 2014 to 2016. She and Adrianne have developed a collaborative working relationship with faculty at North Carolina State University to increase the number and diversity of students pursuing geoscience degrees. Prior to teaching, she was a hydrogeologist at an environmental consulting firm and is a North Carolina Licensed Geologist.


Gretchen teaches face-to-face Intro Physical Geology and Environmental Geology (lecture and lab for both) as well as online sections of Intro Physical Geology (lecture and lab).


Wake Tech Community College

Institution: Wake Tech is the largest two-year college in North Carolina. It has over 70,000 students - 56% of whom are women and 24% of whom are African American or Black. Wake Tech serves the greater Raleigh, NC region in Wake County from five campuses and other sites.

Geoscience program: The geoscience program at Wake Tech is made up of 7 full-time faculty. It offers courses in Physical, Historical, and Environmental Geology. Intro Physical Geology and Environmental Geology are both offered as face-to-face and fully online courses. The Geology program is part of the Department of Natural Sciences at Wake Tech, which also includes Biology and Chemistry. The Department of Natural Sciences is in the Mathematics, Sciences, and Engineering Division at Wake Tech.

Approximately 1,300 students per year complete Intro Physical Geology at Wake Tech. The majority of these students are college transfer students intending to transfer to a four-year college and take the course to meet their science requirements. Enrollment in the course is very diverse, more than 25% identify themselves as belonging to minority groups. A few students each semester will decide to major in geoscience after taking the course. Intro Physical Geology is a prerequisite for Historical Geology and Environmental Geology; approximately 40 students per year take each of these courses.

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.

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