Lone Star - Tomball
Although we did not know it at the start of our project, the Lone Star College System was setting goals that nearly seamlessly tie into the SAGE 2YC goals. The system goals have been handed down to all of the campuses and they have become the goals of Lone Star College - Tomball. One such goal is to improve student success. To reach this goal, there is a real push for faculty at our campus to take more ownership of student performance. As a result, more professional development is directed at improving academic success of all students with particular attention paid to finding ways that will reach African American students since they have shown the least growth in student success as compared to other population groups across the system. I took the opportunity to offer a session on using active learning in science classes during one of our Friday workshops. Using the posters from our SAGE 2YC workshop, I introduced the different types of active learning and demonstrated how I might use active learning during a class. The faculty were very excited about the ideas and are working step by step to add more activities during lecture.
Last spring, LSC - Tomball launched a Diversity Council of which I am a member. This council is part of a cultural shift within our campus so that students are more successful. The Diversity Council is at the heart of this cultural change. The mission of the council is to work together to find ways to create an inclusive environment at LSC - Tomball where students, faculty, staff, and administration, particularly those from diverse backgrounds, feel a sense of belonging. The We have not had many meetings yet but the director and some other programs are building the foundation from which we will build an inclusive and welcome environment. I have engaged with these programs and many of their students are ending up in my classes thereby increasing the number of underrepresented minorities taking geology at LSC - Tomball.
Within our guided pathways project, the geosicence classes fit well in the associate of science pathway. During our regional SAGE 2YC workshop this year, we connected with faculty from some of the most common institutions to which our students transfer. Finding faculty who can provide information to students when they are developing their degree plan so that they take classes that will prepare them to be able to take geoscience classes their first semester at their transfer institution is extremely valuable. We found that across the board, insufficient math advancement is frequently a barrier to entrance into geoscience classes their first semester. Knowing what math classes must be completed prior to transfer is particularly valuable in advising students.
Lone Star - University Park
At our campus, the project goals align well with campus goals, and so it is slightly challenging to differentiate between what influences my team's work has had on other departments. Since our campus is aligned with the project so well, it has afforded me many opportunities to share my team's work with others on campus. For example, last spring, I was in a book club that focused on reaching African-American males in our classes. The book club was for all disciplines, so during these sessions, there was time for me to share some of the data for geology classes and strategies that are being employed to make a more inclusive classroom.
One large impact from our team's work was that I have been able to share and demonstrate active learning strategies in science classrooms. Many of the faculty on my campus had been introduced to active learning, but it was always shown by someone from Humanities, and so it was hard to imagine it in a science classroom. After sharing the active learning posters (Acrobat (PDF) 3MB Feb6 19) at one of our annual geology workshops, I held an active learning session for all sciences. This was on a mandatory professional development day, which included adjuncts. Many commented that it was incredibly useful to see science examples. I have noticed that active learning continues to be a topic of discussion on campus, and this spring, many of our classrooms have started to change the set-up of the desks, so that it is becomes more student-centered and inclusive.
Development of the webpage for our geology department, so that students have a better idea regarding transfer and careers, has been shared with advising. They actually stated that after seeing it, they wished all science departments had something similar. Since I'm chair over Chemistry and Physics, I've brought this topic up with the lead faculty in these disciplines, and now they are starting to working on developing better websites for their students, so that they have information regarding nearby four-year universities.
It's great to hear, though not surprising, that your campuses are also focusing on supporting the academic success of all students, in part by building inclusive environments. Wonderful synergy!
I'm also delighted to hear that both of you have shared the active learning posters in faculty development workshops, showing examples of how you use those techniques in your own classes. I think this kind of sharing is invaluable.
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Wow ! THis is fantastic. I love how the work you are doing as part of SAGE 2YC dovetailed so well. How about including a link to your department web page?
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Terrific descriptions and work that both of you are doing.
During your meeting with your transfer school faculty, have you discussed producing any fliers / handouts / one-pagers that highlight majoring in geology (or careers) that could be shared with the student services / advising departments at both your 2YC & 4YC institutes?
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