Oregon: Portland Change Agent Team

Daina Hardisty, Mt. Hood Community College
Andy Hilt, Portland Community College - Rock Creek Campus
Eriks Puris, Portland Community College - Southeast Campus

Photos: Left Top - Mount Hood Community College, Left Middle - Portland Community College-Southeast Campus, Left Bottom - Portland Community College-Rock Creek campus. Right photo taken from West Hills of Portland, Oregon near where PCC-Rock Creek campus is of East Portland area toward Mt. Hood where PCC-SE campus is located near the lower hills and MHCC campus further to east, just beyond the hills.

Initial Publication Date: September 28, 2016


We, the Portland "Trailblazer" Change Agent team, are working to inspire students to become geoscientifically literate and involved citizens, by introducing them to societally-relevant topics and career possibilities in the Geosciences. To support student learning in the classroom, we are incorporating regional case studies, focusing on nearby urban environments rather than distant wilderness environments. To support student learning beyond the classroom, we seek out and highlight research opportunities to our students and support them in the application process, particularly focusing on the needs of first generation college students. It is our hope that these changes will increase student interest in Geoscience, especially for students from groups underrepresented in the Geosciences.


Andy Hilt and Eriks Puris

Portland Community College (PCC) is a large, multi-campus (4 campuses and multiple centers) institution serving urban, suburban and rural areas. The Geology and General Science program offers a wide variety of courses that meet the needs of the unique student population at each campus and center. Our involvement with SAGE 2YC is a direct reflection of our desire to adequately meet the needs of the diverse population of students across PCC. We will do this by improving student access to earth science courses, supporting success in our courses, engaging the students with community relevant case studies and linking their course work to professional pathways. Working with SAGE 2YC promotes the development of a regional network of Geoscience instructors, which results in the opportunity to learn from others and share impactful ideas with instructors throughout the Pacific Northwest. By collaborating with others, this Geoscience network should result in scientifically literate and well prepared students whether entering the Geoscience field or not. We have chosen to participate in SAGE 2YC now to make sure that PCC students in our classes today have access to an unobstructed pathway to success regardless of their major, heritage, experience, or background.

Daina Hardisty

At Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC), I am the one and only Geosciences instructor, save on occasion if so many students enroll that it might warrant another section opening up, thus having a part-time instructor. Thus, one of my reasons to become involved in this project was to be able to connect with other Geoscience instructors in the local area (Eriks Puris, Andy Hilt, Deron Carter, Shannon Othus-Gault and others), as well as other amazing Geoscience faculty across the nation. This has allowed me to not only network with other Geoscience educators but to also share and learn from them, and even collaborate with them. Another benefit of being involved in SAGE 2YC is to validate the methods I have been using up to this point, in that they have legitimacy. I also would like to continue to improve my teaching techniques by incorporating new active learning strategies and other evidence-based approaches that can enhance what I already do. Although I do get a couple of Geoscience majors per year, and I think I do a reasonable job of helping them get prepared to transfer to a four year institution, this is one area that I have been wanting to improve on and broaden. One of the strands for SAGE 2YC is to facilitate professional pathways, thus it can help to motivate me to facilitate STEM students to journey not only on to a university setting but potentially into the private workforce setting as well. SAGE 2YC has come at the right time for me in my career, as I am looking to diversify, expand and promote my Geoscience program at MHCC to assist every student who, hopefully, "will never look at the Earth the same way again."

Aligning with Institutional Priorities

The work we are engaged in with SAGE 2YC dovetails with many of the current institutional initiatives at Portland Community College (PCC). A few years ago PCC clarified its strategic focus to emphasize "opportunity and equitable student success" which overlaps with SAGE 2YC's goals of increasing success for all students, broadening participation in the earth sciences and developing professional pathways. PCC joined the Achieving the Dream (AtD) network in 2017 which has led to the launch of the YESS: Yes to Equitable Student Success initiative which has identified four priorities: (1) build a foundation for guided pathways; (2) continue our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; (3) increase data and technology capacity; and (4) implement strategic enrollment management. Our efforts to broaden participation by developing teaching content which is local and resonates with our communities helps engage all students who we support with active teaching to allow all students to succeed. To increase student access to the earth sciences we have developed 'on-ramp' courses; these courses are topic driven focusing on socially relevant issues to engage students, utilize open educational materials lowering the cost to the students, have lower math prerequisites than our existing earth science courses allowing students to take them earlier in the community college career, and are offered in on campus and online formats.

At MHCC, the goals of SAGE 2YC align amazingly well with the current vision and core themes at Mt. Hood Community College. MHCC's mission of transforming lives & building communities along with the three core themes of (1) empowering learner success, (2) partnering to inspire innovation and (3) fostering community pride is supported by my work with SAGE 2YC. More specifically, empowering learner success is an echo of SAGE 2YC's goal for supporting the academic success of all students! Additionally, as I "promote students' professional pathways" in SAGE 2YC, I find that it aligns with MHCC's goal of partnering with 4YC's, governmental organizations, private industries and other entities. Additionally the same goals I am working on with SAGE 2YC are the same goals I am using in my Unit Planning at MHCC this year. I am surprised, but pleased by the alignment of my work in these two separate but linked organizations.

Table of Contents

Individual Growth and Development »
Program/Department Development »
Institutional Development »
Regional Network Development »
Making and Sustaining Change »
Team and Institutional Context »

Team Activities


Active Learning: Hood to Coast
November 5, 2016, Mount Hood Community College

Floods of Change: the Vanport Floods, Stereotype Threat, and 2YC-4YC Transfer
January 27, 2018, Portland State University

CASCADES "Creating Academic Success & Cognitive Awareness Developing Exemplar Students" (development pages)
April 27th, USGS Cascades Volcanoes Observatory, Vancouver, WA

Follow-on Activities

Active Learning in Action
Friday May 12, 2017 and Friday May 19, 2017

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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