Regional Network Development
Goals for changes in the regional network
Bring together members of southern California's two-year college (2YC) geoscience community to
- share and discuss strategies that promote student success,
- assist 2YC geoscience faculty and STEM counselors at our institutions in establishing and/or solidifying institution-specific curricular pathways to facilitate 2YC student transfer to 4YCUs,
- build strong, well coordinated geology departments through department-wide conversations and program planning, and
- enhance collegiality and interaction among geoscience instructors at different institutions.
Our overall strategy was to bring together geoscience faculty for face-to-face workshops, followed up 6 months later by virtual, 1-hour workshops. We found it quite challenging to get significant participation in the virtual activities, perhaps due to heavy teaching schedules, but those who did participate enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the things they had learned at the workshop and tried in their classrooms.
December 2016 Workshop This 1-day event 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. The workshop was attended by 18 faculty and counselors from six community colleges. The chance for these two groups to interact was overwhelmingly cited in the workshop evaluations as the most valuable aspect of the workshop. The Dean of Natural Sciences at Pasadena City College at the time, David Douglass, also attended the event. This workshop was followed up with a 1-hour virtual meeting in May 2017 2017 Spring Virtual Gathering.
August 2017 Workshop This workshop was a 2-day event that included participation with NAGT's Traveling Workshop Program (TWP). The SAGE2YC portion of the program focused on assessment and active learning strategies, both of which are linked to supporting academic success. This was an extremely well-attended event and included 36 participants from 12 community colleges. For those of you who like numbers, this is exactly double the number of participants and schools in comparison to our December 2016 workshop. This workshop was followed up with a 1-hour virtual meeting in March 2018 2018 Spring Virtual Gathering.
January 2019 Workshop This was a 2.5 day retreat-style (overnight) workshop that concentrated on supporting all learners. Unlike the previous workshops this one included environmental science and geography faculty, and was attended only by faculty and adjuncts from our campus, making this more like a department retreat. Prior to the retreat we purchased the book Whistling Vivaldi for everyone and asked them to read specific sections prior to meeting. This was a great way to stimulate conversation about sense of belonging and stereotype threat, what that looks like on our campus, and methods to minimize such threats in our classrooms. This workshop was a great success thanks to a balance of concentrated work and activity breaks.
Workshop evaluations generally indicate that simply attending a workshop specifically for local 2YC faculty in the geosciences was a welcome opportunity. Few 2YC faculty attend national geoscience meetings or conferences due to costs or the challenge of missing several days of classes. Additionally, because 2YC faculty are generally not engaged in research, they do not have work to present at such meetings, making it more difficult to justify their attendance to their administrators. Accordingly these local opportunities are extremely beneficial at filling this gap in their professional development. Conversations begin with the workshop agenda and prompts, but fruitful discussions continue naturally during breaks and meals. Probably the most challenging aspect of running these workshops has been getting people to attend. Once they are there, however, the time is well spent and the opportunity to interact with other 2YC geoscience faculty is energizing. Workshop attendees reported that they enjoyed interacting with colleagues whom they have rarely seen before and who likewise have an open mind about improving geoscience education through new methodologies. It is exciting to talk with so many others who are actively thinking about new activities and approaches for engaging students in a variety of geoscience topics.
One theme that has emerged throughout these workshops is that, in addition to meeting new people from other campuses, participants really value the time/opportunity to interact with colleagues from their own school. Correspondingly, faculty who were the only representative from their school lamented the fact that they did not have colleagues with them to share the experience and bring things back to their department as a team. In the past, members of our PCC geology, geography, and environmental science departments rarely spent time collectively thinking about or discussing ways to improve student success in our classrooms and programs. One of the outcomes of our time spent in these workshops is that we now meet bi-monthly for working lunches with an agenda focused on our students and our facilities. One example of our new collaborative energy is a program-wide sustainability project that we created together and linked to the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup Day as well as Earth Day. Adjunct instructors can also really benefit from the workshops, both in terms of networking as well as professional development. The adjunct faculty who attended our 2019 workshop echoed these sentiments during post-workshop discussions. Through informal discussions we have reached out to adjunct faculty and shared many of the take-home messages from these workshops. These ideas have resonated well with a few of the adjunct faculty who have reported trying some of these techniques with success.
Finally, we have worked with counselors at PCC to develop a transfer curriculum map (Curriculum Map PCC Geology.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 116kB Jun12 19)), which will be presented to all future geology majors. This plan gets students completely through PCC in two years (with no intersessions or only one needed). We are also working with STEM counselors to share information about career possibilities within geology, the relative demand for each type of job, and the specific educational pathways required for each type of position. In addition, STEM counselors have agreed to work with us to plan career-related presentations where industry specialists detail their own educational and professional pathways, and discuss what is required to obtain specific geology-related jobs.