SAGE 2YC > Change Agent Teams > Southern California Change Agent Team 1

Southern California Change Agent Team 1

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Dave Mrofka, Mt. San Antonio College
Elizabeth Nagy-Shadman, Pasadena City College
Becca Walker, Mt. San Antonio College

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

Purpose Statement

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 certificate in geoscience. 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 two 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. We anticipate that our 2018 workshop will focus on broadening participation in the geosciences.

At Pasadena City College, Elizabeth Nagy-Shadman uses many active learning strategies to support student success in her physical geology and earth science classes. These include activities such as think-pair-share, gallery walks, jigsaws, minute papers, muddiest points, and exam wrappers. She gives a 1-hour discussion on metacognition to all of her classes on the day she returns their first exam. All of her students do a "geoscience career project" that involves research, an interview with someone working in the geosciences, and a poster presentation to the class. She is currently creating a Natural Hazards course (for Winter 2018) based primarily on InTeGrate materials, which are designed to connect course materials to societal concerns. She is also developing an undergraduate research component to her Physical Oceanography field course that she plans to initiate in Spring 2018.

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.

Team Activities

Fall Workshops

2016 Workshop
December 2, 2016, Mt San Antonio College

2017 Workshop
August 25-26, 2017, Pasadena City College

Spring Follow-on Activities

Spring 2017 Event
May 19, 2017

Team Members

Dave Mrofka

Dave enjoys teaching field studies classes above others. He particularly enjoys seeing students "figure it out" on field trips. His research interest is Neoproterozoic climate change.


Dave teaches California Geology, Physical Geology and Historical Geology

Elizabeth Nagy-Shadman

Elizabeth was a Board Member of GSA's Geoscience Education Division from 2007-2010 and a member of the GSA Education Committee from 2007-2011. Since 2012 Elizabeth has been a faculty mentor and workshop leader for the STAR (Stem Teacher And Researcher) program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Elizabeth was also the two-year-college (2YC) lead responsible for engaging the 2YC community in the InTeGrate project (2012-2016), a $10 million NSF-funded STEP-Center grant.


Elizabeth teaches Physical Geology, Ocean Science, Earth System Science, and field courses ranging from day trips to 2-week field excursions.

Becca Walker

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.


Jump to: Pasadena City College | Mt. San Antonio College

Pasadena City College

Institution: Pasadena City College is a large, single-campus 2YC in the Los Angeles area. It serves over 32,000 students, 41% of whom are Hispanic or Latino and 21% of whom are Asian/Pacific Islander, making PCC one of the few colleges in the country that is both a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (ANNAPISI)-eligible.

Geoscience program: The geoscience program at Pasadena City College includes 4 full-time and 4-6 adjunct geology faculty and 3 full-time and several adjunct geography faculty. Courses taught in the geoscience program include Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Ocean Science, Meteorology, Environmental Science, Geography, Earth System Science, and GIS certification.

As a department, every semester Pasadena City College offers 5-7 sections of Physical Geology (lab and lecture), 2 sections of Earth Science (lab and lecture), and 4-6 sections of Introduction to Oceanography (lecture); all of these are introductory, non-major courses. PCC has "majors" who take historical geology and field courses, and could take electives such as dinosaurs (rigorous), California geology, or environmental geology. The College also offers mineralogy once a year. The Geoscience Department at PCC is part of the School of Science and Mathematics and has a geoscience coordinator who is the department's liaison with the Dean.

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.

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