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New York Change Agent Team

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Tracy Imperato, Nassau Community College
Sean Tvelia, Suffolk County Community College

Jump Down To: Progress to Date | Team Activities | Team Members | Institutions

Purpose Statement

We are working to increase participation and success, particularly among students from under-represented populations and first generation college students. Our current work focuses on recruiting a diverse student population and working with all of our students to help them thrive. This includes building students' metacognitive skills. For example, we talk explicitly with our classes about the types of analysis and critical thinking required in our courses, and we are building reflection activities into our courses, so that students make the connections between their study habits and their learning. We are also working with our faculty colleagues to share these strategies for adapting our teaching to reach and encourage our students, who can be successful.

Progress to Date

To date our regional workshops and institutional activities have focused on broadening participation and increasing students success within geoscience courses. Through collaborative exercises between community college students and two- and four-year college faculty at regional workshops, community college faculty have identified potential academic weaknesses in transferring students and, with the guidance of participating students, have developed and adopted new pedagogies that help students better engage with course materials and ensure the competitiveness of transfer students.

At Suffolk County Community College, faculty have developed think-pair-share activities and group writing and drawing exercises that help students better assess and practice their understanding of course content. Metacognition lectures have also been adopted by some faculty to provide students with greater understanding of their own learning process and to provide students with concrete strategies for meeting course objectives and assessing their own learning. Additionally, student tutors have been installed in most geoscience laboratory sections to provide peer-to-peer assistance and instill a sense of community within the geoscience program. Introduction of student tutors in this manner has caused a dramatic increase in student usage of the science learning centers and greater success within classes. In order to increase participation within geoscience majors, faculty have also developed a geoscience newsletter to provide parents and students information about geoscience career opportunities and highlight available academic opportunities, academic resources, and leading transfer institutions.

At Nassau Community College, faculty have developed exam wrappers to help students develop their learning and study skills. In order to encourage and inspire new majors, faculty have also included units within specific topics that highlight specific scientists who work within the topic being studied. Additionally, faculty developed field trips to local institutions where students met with university faculty to learn about their research and the educational opportunities available to transfer students.

Team Activities

Fall Workshops

2016 Workshop
November 4, 2016, Suffolk County Community College

2017 Workshop
November 3, 2017, Suffolk County Community College

Spring Follow-on Activities

Spring 2017 Event
April 3, 2017, Suffolk County Community College


Team Members


Tracy Imperato


Tracy is an Assistant Professor of Geology at Nassau Community College. Tracy's educational interests include anything related to the history of New York City, from the rocks to the infrastructure. She is also interested in storm action on coastlines and how coasts evolve through time particularly with human interference. Tracy is the Geology/Astronomy Outcomes Assessment Coordinator for the Department of Physical Sciences, and Program Coordinator for the Women's Faculty Association at NCC. She has also recently served as Nassau Community College's Academic Senate Grants Committee Chairperson.

Courses

Tracy teaches Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Field Laboratory Geology, and Beaches and Coasts.

Sean Tvelia


Sean is an Associate Professor of Geology. His primary teaching responsibility includes both introductory and upper level geology courses including a research-oriented field studies course and Planetary Geology. Aside from his primary responsibility in geology, Sean is actively involved in the Astronomy Department and is a founding board member of Montauk Observatory, a not-for-profit organization that provides free public science lectures on the east end of Long Island.

Courses

Sean teaches Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Geologic Field Studies, and Planetary Geology.

JoAnn Thissen


JoAnn is an Honors Faculty and winner of the NY State Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. In both her face-to-face and online courses she uses active and inquiry based learning, involving students in hands-on activities, research projects, and field work.

Courses

While she was at Nassau Community College, JoAnn taught Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Ocean Science, Field Geology, and Beaches and Coasts, a non-lab coastal processes/coastal geomorphology course.


Institutions

Jump to: Nassau Community College | Suffolk County Community College

Nassau Community College

Institution: Nassau Community College the largest single-campus two-year college in New York, and is part of the SUNY system. It serves Long Island and is located in Garden City. Nassau Community College has over 22,000 students - 23% of whom are African American or Black and 23% of whom are Latino or Hispanic. Five percent of the students receive services through the office of disability services.

Geoscience program: Geosciences are part of the Physical Sciences Department at NCC. The department offers courses in Physical Science, Geology, Meteorology, Astronomy, and Environmental Science and has 38 active faculty members (nine full-time) and 3 lab technicians. Of the 38 faculty members, 9 are full time.

NCC does not have a formal geoscience major (program) but advises and prepares students to transfer to four-year colleges and universities as future geoscience majors.

Suffolk County Community College

Institution: Suffolk County Community College (also known as SUNY Suffolk) is the largest community college in the State of New York, serving about 26,000 students from 3 campuses on Long Island. Eighteen percent of its students are Hispanic or Latino.

Geoscience program: Geosciences at Suffolk County Community College are mostly part of the Earth & Space Science program which is run through the Department of Physical Sciences. The program offers courses in Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Meteorology, Environmental Science, Global Climate Change, Planetary Geology; the Biology Department offers Oceanography. The geoscience program has three full-time faculty and four adjunct faculty.

A majority of SCCC students served by geoscience courses are liberal arts students satisfying a lab-science elective. Across three campuses, the program serves approximately 250 students a semester and has 15-20 majors each year. Majors and potential majors in Sean's classes are also given many opportunities to participate in field activities with local university and other geoscience agencies.


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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