SAGE 2YC > Change Agent Teams > Virginia Change Agent Team

Virginia Change Agent Team

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Peter Berquist, Thomas Nelson Community College
Karen Layou, Reynolds Community College
Lynsey LeMay, Thomas Nelson Community College

Jump Down To: Progress to Date | Team Activities | Team Members | Institutions

Purpose Statement

We are working to:

  • support the academic success of our students through innovative teaching practices
  • broaden participation of underrepresented populations within our courses and discipline
  • increase student awareness of, and participation in, professional pathways in the geosciences, and
  • develop a broader and more vibrant network of geoscience faculty within the VCCS (Virginia Community Colleges) and four-year institutions, as well as geoscience professionals across the state.

Progress to Date

Our efforts to support student learning include expanding of our use of active learning methods; incorporating metacognitive activities, such as study skills discussions and exam wrappers, into our courses; and, being more explicit about our expectations of student learning. For example, we teach students about Bloom's taxonomy for the cognitive domain and discuss how an awareness of Bloom's can change the way students approach studying and taking exams. We have also developed and incorporated information about geoscience careers, and pathways to those careers, into our entry-level geoscience courses through use of Blackboard modules and course activities. Data are currently being collected to assess whether these resources and course activities influence student perceptions of and participation in geoscience career exploration.

Change Agent Project video

As of June 2018, our efforts have expanded to include:

  • leading a student career mentoring workshop at the Virginia Geological Field Conference (VGFC)
  • presenting innovative teaching strategies at VCCS New Horizons conference and on-campus faculty professional development sessions
  • conducting formal assessment of a science identity assignment aimed at helping students see themselves as scientists
  • increasing successful placement of students in research and internship opportunities
  • initiating intentional use of outcomes assessment data to drive future course, department, and programmatic changes

Work Going Forward

Prior efforts to address project strands will continue, and the focus for the 2018-2019 academic year will target the following:

  • Goal: Increase successful completion rates for under-represented minorities, particularly African-American students
    • Addresses supporting success of all students and broadening participation strands
    • Incorporate sense of belonging values affirmations on first day/week assignments
    • Increase use of science identity assignments
    • Add metacognitive and sense of belonging content to college orientation class curriculum
  • Goal: Make stronger connections to transfer institutions and professional geoscientists
    • Addresses facilitation of professional pathways strand
    • Exploring connections with regional four year colleges and universities
    • Continue career mentoring workshops with VGFC community
    • Maintain connections with 2YC alumni to track progress beyond graduation
  • Goal: Develop stronger connections with faculty on our campuses, including adjuncts
    • Addresses engagement with colleagues on campus
    • Encourage all faculty to incorporate SAGE strategies in classes, particularly through faculty orientation
    • Encourage geoscience adjuncts become active members in the regional geoscience network
    • Continue to present metacognitive and active learning teaching strategies at on-campus professional development opportunities
  • Goal: Strengthen alignment between CA efforts and institutional priorities
    • Addresses need to put CA work in broader context
    • Increase visibility of geoscience program
    • Connect with Student Services and Academic Advisors
    • Expand outreach to local high school earth science programs
    • Development of a Geology Department Advisory Board

Team Activities

Fall Workshops

2016 Workshop
October 21-22, 2016, Lord Fairfax Community College, Middletown Campus

2017 Workshop
Friday, October 13, 2017

2018 Workshop (development pages)
October 26, 2018, Virginia Geological Field Conference

Spring Follow-on Activities

Spring 2017 Event
April 28, 2017

Team Members

Peter Berquist

Pete is the Department Chair at Thomas Nelson Community College where he taught field courses in the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Canada intended for two-year geoscience students from TNCC, NOVA and other schools.


Pete teaches Physical Geology (lecture/lab and online), Historical Geology (lecture/lab and online), and various field courses. In 2015 he began teaching an Introduction to Research course for science majors so they have some experience designing and communicating research before going on to four-year colleges and universities.

Karen Layou

Karen teaches geology at Reynolds Community College, where she is a member of the Honors faculty. She co-compiled the SAGE 2YC resources on Supporting Geoscience Student Transfer and is the chair of the NAGT Geo2YC Division Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award Committee.


Karen teaches Physical Geology (lecture/lab, hybrid) and Historical Geology (lecture/lab, hybrid).

Lynsey LeMay

Lynsey is chair of TNCC's General Education committee and is part of the college's committee to implement a new advising plan. She collaborates with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to involve students in field and lab-based research. She is a past president of the NAGT Geo2YC Division.


Lynsey teaches Physical Geology (lecture and lab, as well as online), Historical Geology (lecture and lab), and Oceanography (lecture and lab).


Jump to: Thomas Nelson Community College | Reynolds Community College

Thomas Nelson Community College

Institution: Thomas Nelson Community College is a two-year college in Virginia with two campuses, one in Hampton, and the other near Williamsburg. It has over 16,000 students - 61% of whom are women and 35% of whom are Black or African-American.

Geoscience program: The geology program at TNCC is comprised of two full-time faculty members, and at least four adjunct instructors each semester. One of the full-time faculty positions is also the Department Chair, and reports directly to the Dean of the Division of Science, Engineering, and Technology; this division also includes Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. More information is available from the Thomas Nelson Community College Geoscience program.

One notable initiative is the Jobs in Geosciences Speaker Series where professional geologists give short presentations on their career path and describe the work they do.

Courses taught in the geoscience program include Physical Geology, Historical Geology, and Oceanography. Geology serves ~ 200 to 250 students each semester (except for summer terms, which draw ~30 students). TNCC offers an Associate of Science degree, but it is not specific to geoscience.

Reynolds Community College

Institution: Reynolds Community College serves the City of Richmond, Virginia and five surrounding counties across three campuses. Over 17,000 students attend Reynolds, 36% of whom are African American or Black.

Geoscience program: The geology program at Reynolds has one full-time faculty member and one to two adjunct faculty members each semester. The full-time faculty member reports to the Physical Sciences Program Head, and the Dean of the School of Math, Science and Engineering. This School also includes Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Computer Science.

Courses taught in the Geoscience Program include Physical Geology and Historical Geology. Geology serves approximately 80-100 students per semester, except for summer terms which draw about 15-20 students. The majority of Reynolds geology students are non-science majors, representing primarily social science (including pre-service teachers), liberal arts, and business majors. Only 20-25% of students enrolled in geology courses in a given semester are science majors. Most students take geology to fulfill a lab-science degree requirement.

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