Goals for change at the program/department levelOur overarching goal has been to grow the Oceanography component in our department. We have considered how to do that by setting up the following goals:
- Attract more students to Ocean Sciences
- Better prepare more students for future study and careers in Ocean Sciences
- Build a community of like-minded educators who will collaborate on projects to further these goals
To attract more students to the Ocean Sciences, we have
- Displayed posters in hallway showcasing field trips/locations
- Installed and maintain a bulletin board with info about activities, jobs, opportunities, and current news in Ocean Sciences
- Instituted an Ocean Lecture Series
- Set out to expand our course offerings in Oceanography by developing a new course in Coastal Oceanography. A second course will nurture student interest and help guide them on their path toward a career in Ocean Sciences.
To better support the success of all students, for the future and for potential careers, we
- Worked on incorporating active student learning strategies into our classes. These have included flipping the classroom and developing hands-on activities for each chapter of the text.
- Used a backward design approach, developed themed modules, and incorporated research components into our new course.
- Adopted more inspirational field trips, such as research expeditions and joint field trips with transfer institutions. For example, our students have joined UCLA expeditions, where they were able to interact with graduate students and faculty working on their research projects. We also take them to the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Catalina Island, where students have the opportunity to snorkel among fish in the kelp forest. Through collaborations, we have been able to offer these opportunities at minimal cost to our students; many would be unable to partake otherwise.
A third major effort, to build a regional community of like-minded educators, has involved
- Hosting a workshop, called PathWaves to Success: Building Bridges between 2YC and 4YC Ocean Sciences Programs. This workshop was designed to raise the issue of transfer and career paths for students who have indicated an interest in pursuing Ocean Sciences. We invited faculty from Southern California 2YC, CSU, and UC systems to share and explore what 2YCs and beyond have to offer in terms of curricula, field and laboratory research and exercises, and collaboration in all these areas.
- Initiating an Oceanography guest speaker series. This lecture series has allowed us to reach out to and interact with other disciplines on our campus, such as chemistry, biology, geography, astronomy, etc., as we have the goal to invite speakers of various backgrounds and focus, all centered around the ocean in the broadest sense.
The lecture series has resulted in several positive outcomes:
We have given a platform to our newly-hired adjunct faculty, where they can introduce themselves and their research interests by sharing their story. This inclusive practice allows our adjunct faculty to feel more welcomed and valued.
- Students were able to link their experience on the research cruise to the scientific process when the graduate student in charge of the research returned to Mt. SAC to share the results. In addition, interaction with the graduate student was a richer connection since it provided a closer link to the path they might choose.
- One of our speakers talked on the subject of "Earth's early ocean and atmosphere - Life beyond the Solar System." The scope of this presentation encouraged students to think about broader applications of Ocean Sciences. It also was a chance for faculty from other disciplines within our department and beyond to become involved.
- We were fortunate to be a chosen institution for the Ocean Discovery Lecture Series, which is supported by the U.S. Science Support Program. This allows even community colleges, who generally have smaller budgets for invited speakers, to host renowned researchers. Hosting the series speaker was a valuable way to increase the visibility of our department and campus.
- Our lecture series has given regional 4YCs a platform to promote their institutions and recruit transfer students.
We hope to offer our Coastal Oceanography course within the next year, after it has cleared its last administrative hurdle. It has received considerable attention from the Environmental Studies Task Force as a valuable addition to the offerings at Mt. SAC. Having this course as part of the E.S. degree will attract more students and provide them with a stronger educational background.
The enthusiastic group of workshop participants agreed to make a commitment toward further work on promoting student attraction, retention, and success in Ocean Sciences. We will start planning another workshop soon; many of the attendees were anxious to get to work on their action plans, and to have an outlet to report their progress.