Initial Publication Date: June 5, 2019

Individual Growth and Development

Team and Institutional Context »

The Faculty as Change Agents program sought to support faculty Change Agents' growth as instructors and leaders so that they could have a greater impact on their students and in their programs, departments, institutions, and regional networks.

Kristie Bradford, Lone Star College - Tomball Campus

At the start of my involvement with the SAGE 2YC Change Agents project, I dabbled in active learning but really didn't know to apply the techniques effectively and consistently. My interaction with geoscience faculty throughout my college system and in the larger region was limited to curriculum team meetings and chance meetings at workshops and conferences. In addition, I did not have interactions with higher administration officials, outreach professionals, or anyone working on diversity issues. On a personal level, I was not able to speak knowledgably or effectively about higher education pedagogy and theory nor could I address diversity and ways to combat performance differences between special populations of students.

Now at the three year mark of my participation in the project, I know that my teaching and my approach to teaching has changed significantly. Utilizing backwards design, I have worked to align my courses with both my expectations and the college's student learning outcomes. As a result, I am employing a variety of assignments such as active learning during class time (gallery walks, think/pair/shares, minute papers, etc), labs, reading assignments, online quizzes, and homework to prepare the students for the exams. This scaffolding approach has lead to better student exam performance overall despite a higher demand on their learning. Although I am still developing the best ways to serve my students, my classes have come a long way from when I simply lectured for 80 minutes while students took notes.

Following our thread of increasing participation of underrepresented minorities in the geosciences, I connected with other groups on campus whose goal is to increase the equity for and participation of marginalized groups on campus. I am working to use those organizations to connect with students who might not have thought that geoscience was something for them. I plan to create documents for those organizations to use this spring for fall registration to increase awareness of geoscience. Like most community colleges, we serve a diverse population and we want that population represented in our classes. The greater confidence I developed during this project has enabled me to connected with the wider faculty community at my college campus to find ways to engage students and make the geosciences more visible on campus.

The opportunity to work, talk, and connect with other local geology faculty has been both comforting and stimulating. It can feel like I am an island to myself at LSC - Tomball since there are no other full-time geology faculty on campus and the only adjunct we have teaches a hybrid course which meets only a few times a semester, always when I am not on campus. Having the opportunity to talk to and learn from other faculty has been wonderful. Within the SAGE 2YC community, I have developed friendships where we talk over ideas and problems and even create our own book clubs to further our learning! The possibility of collaborating on future projects and the opportunity to discuss how to proceed with my own projects with more experienced faculty has also been invaluable.

Bryn Benford, Lone Star College - University Park Campus

During the course of the project, my instructional style has continued to change and evolve. In the beginning of the project, my instructional style focused on lecturing and providing clear, outlined notes to the students. This method of teaching hit low levels of Bloom's taxonomy (i.e., remember, understand). In the past few years, I have worked to use backwards design to redo my classes. I've modified my classes, so that straight lecture is rare. Classes are now centered around active learning activities (e.g., gallery walk, jigsaws, muddiest points). We have initiated a semester-long project involving our three-story rock wall, so that students get the experience of going to outcrops, collecting data, and making interpretations from that data. I've also reformatted my exams to align with this teaching style, and to make sure that the exams focus on explaining key concepts rather than memorizing facts. Additionally, more recently, I have worked to create a more inclusive classroom and to develop students' sense of belonging in the classroom.

I have also worked with the other full-time faculty member at my campus to develop a Geology Majors community where we meet monthly. We discuss courses to take before transferring, different transfer programs, internships, and careers. I have also developed a campus geology webpage {} for potential and existing majors. I have met with our advising department and shared this webpage with them so that they have it on-hand for when they are working with students.

For my department, I have worked with my adjuncts to help them to continue to grow with me to help move away from the traditional lecture. I have also shared with them data regarding the success of our students based on different demographics. We have recognized an achievement gap between our Anglo students and our underrepresented minorities. We are working together to find strategies to create a more inclusive and diverse environment.