Individual Growth and Development

Team and Institutional Context »

The Faculty as Change Agents program sought to support faculty Change Agents' growth as instructors and leaders so that they could have a greater impact on their students and in their programs, departments, institutions, and regional networks.

Adrianne Leinbach, Wake Tech Community College

Reflecting back over how things have changed since the beginning of the project it is hard to narrow down what has had the most impact. It has brought about many changes in my teaching, changed how I interact with students on their responsibility for their learning, and strengthened the confidence that I now feel in working and speaking with my fellow change agents. Another change is my confidence in planning and leading workshops as well as building confidence to present at conferences on changes I have made and things I have learned. This confidence prompted another Change Agent, Bridget James, and I to lead a workshop at the 2018 Earth Educators Rendezvous on Teaching Online. Since writing about all of these would take several pages I will focus on changes I have made in my teaching practices and the effects on my students and fellow instructors.

In one of the early SAGE 2YC workshops we discussed backwards design, alignment and learning objectives. Our school had previously worked on a set of learning objectives for our introductory geology course. The workshop motivated me to take it a step further and create lesson-level learning objectives for every lesson. Once the course-level objectives were created I aligned assignments and test questions to the same levels of Bloom's taxonomy.

At another SAGE 2YC workshop we discussed ways to help students "learn to learn." Talks here helped me see that our student population had changed over the last few years and we were getting students in their first semesters not in their fourth. So these students need help in learning to take notes and how to study. I made the learning objectives into note taking templates and have seen student success rates improve. All of the Wake Tech geologists decided to develop lesson-level learning objectives. We took the objectives that I had made and all the instructors made changes and we as a group agreed on a long set of objectives. We now have objectives that can be given to new instructors and adjuncts. Several instructors turned them into study guides but we have all made them available to students.

Other changes that I have made include increasing active learning in both my seated and online classes as well as trying to make assignments more relevant to my students. After many discussions with some of my fellow change agents on how to have students do ongoing projects throughout the semester, I now have my online students doing discussion boards where they pick one location and follow this location for a variety of the discussions. This has made them feel confident and that they are the class "expert" on that location. The last thing that continues to help and improve my class are my fellow change agents. Several times over the past year I have decided to create a new lab or looked for a new assignment and have contacted one or more of the change agents and within days gotten several ideas and help. Participating in this grant has given me the tools to be a better educator and the resources to share what I have learned with those at my school and in my state.

Gretchen Miller, Wake Tech Community College

I have made a lot of changes to my teaching over the course of the SAGE 2YC project. Specifically, I have introduced metacognition and growth mindset resources to my students, as well as given them more tools to help them learn the material in my courses. For example, I created short orientation videos to help our online students get started on all of the lab activities, and I added good instructional videos from outside sources to my lecture assignments. I have also developed more review activities for both my online and seated classes; one example is that I created end of chapter review quizzes for my seated students using the Kahoot! website. One large project that I helped coordinate was to develop detailed, lesson-level student learning objectives (SLOs) for our introductory geology course. This was a group effort that involved all of our geology faculty members working together and making decisions. The final product is helping us to better align our course goals with our in-class activities and assessments through backwards design. In addition, I started using the detailed SLOs as study guides to help my students better learn the course material so they can succeed.

During this project I have also grown as a leader, and I have come to realize that I am really good at connecting people to opportunities. I have connected the geoscience faculty at our college with geoscience faculty across North Carolina through the workshops we have been holding at our campus, and this has blossomed into a strong regional network of faculty. We started the regional network by checking the websites for each North Carolina community college to find which ones offer geology courses, and then copied the email addresses of the instructors teaching those geology courses. We use email to invite the instructors to our workshops, and to share other relevant opportunities that we hear about. I have also connected our geoscience majors with research opportunities at our partner institutions (North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences) through our NSF GeoPaths grant and with professionals in the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists. I started my career as a professional hydrogeologist, and I feel strongly that we need to support our students who are pursuing geoscience careers early and often with mentoring and professional socialization. The SAGE 2YC project has also connected me to a much larger community of geoscience educators across the country. I have been able to learn new ideas and grow as an educator because of my work with the SAGE 2YC team.