Southern California Change Agent Team 1
Dave Mrofka, Mt. San Antonio College
Becca Walker, Mt. San Antonio College
We are working to increase student awareness of, and preparation for, academic and professional pathways attainable with a 2-year degree, 4-year degree, or a geoscience certificate. Mechanisms that we are exploring include devoting classroom time to informing students about geoscience careers and pathways, incorporating career preparation into our courses and programs, building relationships with our institutions' career and transfer counselors, and creating a geotechnician certificate program. As we work towards these goals we are also actively making efforts to build a 2YC geoscience community in the southern California area that will foster fruitful interactions, and possibly collaborations, between members of various institutions in the region.
Progress to Date
Our team members represent 1 of the 33 community colleges in the Southern California region, many of them located within a 50-mile radius. This density of 2YC geoscience departments provides an ideal opportunity for institutional interactions through face-to-face and virtual meetings. To date we have held two face-to-face workshops (December 2016 and August 2017) that included full-time and adjunct faculty, including counseling faculty, from 15 community colleges (including ours). Our 2016 workshop addressed facilitating students' professional pathways by including college transfer counselors in our afternoon discussion of 2YC-4YC transfer issues, as well as supporting academic success through gallery walks, a metacognition presentation and discussion, and small group work. Our 2017 workshop focused on assessment and active learning strategies, both of which are linked to supporting academic success.
Mt. San Antonio College faculty Dave Mrofka and Becca Walker have implemented a variety of instructional changes in their individual geoscience courses and have initiated the development of a Geotechnician Certificate Program at Mt. SAC. Becca has been using IF-AT (Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique) in her oceanography class as an active, collaborative formative assessment strategy. She has also developed and implemented performance reviews in her physical geology class. A performance review is a written document summarizing a student's technical/content knowledge and skills and soft skills using a variety of data, including self-evaluations, peer evaluations, exam and lab results, and in-class work. Students meet with her individually to discuss their performance reviews and set goals for the remainder of the semester based on their documented strengths and areas of improvement. The Geotechnician Certificate Program is being designed in the context of a Career and Technical Education grant from California's Strong Workforce Initiative program. Designed for students interested in careers as geotechnicians, environmental technicians, or petroleum technicians upon the completion of a 2-year degree, the program will include general education and STEM coursework and a work experience course. We are currently designing new courses, soliciting feedback from a variety of local stakeholders in the environmental/geotechnical sector to develop an educational roadmap, and identifying companies and agencies suitable for the work experience component.
As of June, 2018 we have made a number of changes related to our personal teaching practices as well as our program. Becca continues to assist students by incorporating performance reviews in her physical geology class. These reviews incorporate in-class work, exam results and both peer and instructor feedback. She also has seen positive results related to adding low-stakes group exams to some of her classes. Dave has added a peer-reviewed, guided writing project to his Earth Science class; this incorporates a lot of collaboration with Mt. SAC's writing department. He has also added a low-stakes group exam to his physical geology class, has experimented with IF-AT forms and has experimented with a variety of active learning strategies (gallery walks and jigsaws) in his physical geology class. In regards to affecting change within our program and school, our major work has been to continue to develop a CTE program for geotechnical jobs. We have had one CTE-related course (Environmental Geology Lab) approved, have submitted a methods and a work experience course this year and are planning on writing the last CTE course in the coming year. We have also tried to increase the number of majors by supporting an increase in the number of physical geology sections the department offers.
Work Going Forward
Moving forward, into the final year of the SAGE-2YC program, we are looking forward to continuing the changes we have made in our classes and development of the CTE program. We anticipate that our 2018 workshop will focus on two threads, broadening participation in the geosciences and STEM and supporting the success of all students, and will target both adjunct faculty and probationary faculty in the southern California region. Some exciting ideas from the 2018 summer SAGE workshop we have proposed to our department include:
- Creating an adjunct liaison position within our department to support adjunct success and teaching methods-we see this as integral to more geoscience majors since adjuncts teach most of our feeder classes in physical geology
- Creating an alumni "success board"
- Analyzing the value of linked vs. non-linked feeder classes (Earth Science and Oceanography)
- Identifying a point person in the department who can assist students with coarse maps for degrees and transfer
- Continuing to develop our CTE program
Until the spring of 2018, Elizabeth Nagy-Shadman (now part of Southern California Team 3) was part of Southern California Team 1. She, Becca, and Dave ran the following events:
Dave enjoys teaching field studies classes above others. He particularly enjoys seeing students "figure it out" on field trips. His research interests are Neoproterozoic climate change and its sedimentary record, specifically in the Dearth Valley region.
Dave teaches California Geology, Physical Geology, Global Climate Change and Historical Geology
Becca has taught 3-4 week field courses in Hawai'i and Idaho/Wyoming/Utah. She is co-author of InTeGrate's Climate of Change module and GETSI's Ice Mass and Sea Level Changes module. Becca is also a member of Team LUNA Chix Los Angeles Cycling team and Slopok Cycling club.
Becca teaches Physical Geology, Ocean Science, Field Studies of Central California, Field Studies of Southern California, and Special Topics in Field Geology.
Mt. San Antonio College
Institution: Mt. San Antonio College is located in the greater Los Angeles area. It serves over 35,000 students, 53% of whom identify as Latino or Hispanic.
Geoscience program: The Earth Sciences and Astronomy Department at Mt. San Antonio College includes 9 full-time faculty and ~20 adjunct faculty and is part of the Natural Sciences Division. Our department offers over 150 sections of geology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy each academic year. Although the majority of students taking courses in our department do so to fulfill their General Education Physical Science requirement, we do have a cohort of students who intend to transfer to 4-year institutions as geoscience majors. Some of these students will earn an AA in Liberal Studies, Natural Sciences Emphasis and/or an AA in Environmental Studies before transferring.
Courses offered in the program include Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Oceanography, Environmental Geology, Field Studies of Central California, Field Studies of Southern California, Special Topics in Field Geology, Geology of California, Natural Disasters, Geology of the Solar System, Introduction to Astronomy, Introduction to Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe, Special Topics in Astronomy, and Special Topics in Geology.
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.