Texas Change Agent Team
Kristie Bradford, Lone Star College - Tomball Campus
Bryn Benford, Lone Star College - University Park Campus
We are working to support the academic success of all students by using best practices in the classroom including aligned classroom activities, labs, and assessments. We want to improve the participation and success of our minorities that are currently under represented and under performing.
Progress to Date
The primary SAGE 2YC thread we have been working on is Student Success. We have been increasing the amount of active learning we have in our classrooms as well as assisting colleagues to do the same. We have prepared some activities for our colleagues to use so that they do not have to create activities from scratch. Another useful tool for increasing student achievement and completion rates is undergraduate research. Through our Honors College, we have been incorporating student research into classwork and as independent projects. We are continuing to work on pathways by identifying and advising students who express an interest in a geology major. Although our advising is not in an official capacity and is not directly connected to a pathway, by talking with students about their course plans, we can assist them in making choices that will best prepare them for a 4YC. Our latest venture is to develop a database of geologists showcasing people from underrepresented minorities. We are still in the early stages of this aspect of the project.
As of June 2018, we have continued our focus on Strand 1: Supporting the Academic Success of all Students as mentioned above and added Strand 2: Broadening Participation in Underrepresented Minorities. By delving into the outcomes data for our classes, we noted an achievement gap for students from demographic groups that have been historically underrepresented in the geosciences. As a result, we have begun focusing on how we can target our classroom activities to best meet the needs of these students. The literature shows that by incorporating active learning and creating a supportive, inclusive community in the classroom, the academic success of all students improves. Our current focus is to work to close that achievement gap and increase the enrollment of underrepresented minorities in geoscience classes. At our workshop this year, we presented the outcomes data and discussed the book Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele as a starting point to get the faculty in attendance to think about how they can make changes in their classroom to better support the academic success of URMs.
Work Going Forward
Strand 1: Improving Success of All Students
Since recognizing that the success rate of underrepresented minorities is lower than the average in our courses, we have set the goal to increase the success rate of our underrepresented minorities by 0.5 GPA points. To do this, we are going to focus on working primarily with the adjuncts at each of the campuses (full-time, though much fewer, will also be included). We first want to have them attend our next workshop. At the workshop, we plan to expose them to the achievement gap, provide strategies for an inclusive classroom, and teach them five active learning ready-made strategies that tie to student learning outcomes.
Strand 2: Broadening Participation
Our outcomes data indicate that fewer women and African American students are enrolling in our classes relative to the college population. Our short-term goal is to start to move the needle in the right direction. The long-term goal is to come within 2% of our college's demographics. To achieve this, we are going to meet with advisors and make them aware of the geology program and educate them in the data that show a greater success rate of Gen Ed students in our classes over other sciences. We also want to develop micro-campaigns to encourage enrollment in geology (e.g., focus on those enrolled in classes, but have not yet taken a science class). We are also going to work with the curriculum team to align our math requirements with the new math pathways that have been developed. We hope that this will make us more accessible than the other sciences. Finally, we want to meet with nearby high school and create and share a brochure about our geology program. We plan to collaborate with the National Association for Black Geoscientists (based in Houston) to talk to high school classes.
Strand 3: Increasing Professional Pathways
Currently, there is a lack in the clear pathway for geoscience majors and future science teachers. We plan to develop a guided universal pathway for all neighboring four-year universities. The strategies to achieve this are to first continue the pathway discussions with the University of Houston – Downtown as a first articulation agreement. Once this is established, we can hopefully use it as a template for other four-year schools. We plan to educate advisors on geoscience careers and develop a handout. Finally, we will expand our campus geology webpages to include career information, internships, research opportunities, and highlight the achievements of former students.
Kristie is the faculty lead for geology and a 2014 and 2018 recipient of Lone Star College's Teaching Excellence Award. In addition to teaching geology, Kristie is also a taekwondo master instructor. Teaching taekwondo often gives her ideas about how to present information or draw in her geology students.
Kristie teaches Physical Geology and Historical Geology.
Bryn is the department chair for chemistry, geology, and physics. She is passionate about developing high quality online physical geology classes. Bryn recently completed the construction of a three-story geology rock wall. The wall is meant to mimic the field experience that students from other parts of the country might experience.
Bryn teaches Physical Geology and Historical Geology.
Lone Star CollegeInstitution: Lone Star College is one of 2 large community colleges serving the Houston area. With 6 major campuses, it serves nearly 100,000 students per year, 17% of whom are African American, 34% are Hispanic or Latino, and 59% are women. Seventy one percent of the students at Lone Star attend part-time. Each campus has its own geology program, which is part of a Division on each campus that includes various other science and/or mathematics departments.
Lone Star College - Tomball
Campus: The Tomboll campus serves about 9,000 students from a campus northwest of Houston. Campus demographics are similar to the College as a whole with a student population that is 13% African American, 28% Hispanic, and 61% women.
Geoscience program: The geoscience program at Lone Star College - Tomball Campus offers courses in Physical Geology and Historical Geology serving between 150 and 180 students per year, most of whom are taking geology to fulfill a science requirement which may or may not be specific to their degree plan. There are no majors. The program has one permanent faculty member. Geology is part of a Natural Sciences Department on the Tomball campus.
Lone Star College - University Park Campus
Campus: The University Park Campus has about 11,000 students, and has the highest percentage of Asian students (12%) of the LSC campuses.
Geoscience program: Dr. Benford is one of two full-time geoscience faculty at the Lone Star College - University Park Campus and there are 6 adjuncts who teach 1 or 2 classes each. There is also one lab-science coordinator that is shared with the chemistry program. The geoscience program is part of the Math & Sciences Division which covers all of the natural sciences, mathematics and the social sciences. Within the Division, a department includes biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, environmental science and geology and offers courses in Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Oceanography, and Environmental Science. GIS is taught at the CyFair campus.
Most geoscience courses have a maximum of 32 students. These students take physical geology so that they can meet the science class requirement for their Associates degree. Those who take historical geology tend to be students who want to transfer to 4 year schools, and about 1/3 want to major 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.