Wisconsin Change Agent Team

Melvin Arthur Johnson, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay / Manitowoc Campus
Keith West, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay / Marinette Campus


We are working to facilitate the professional pathways of geoscience students at two-year colleges in Wisconsin. Our current focus is on improving the transferability of our classes to the four-year campuses within the UW System, so that our students will see the geosciences as a viable academic and career path. At the same time, we are incorporating active learning strategies into our courses and teaching our students metacognitive skills, to prepare them for such an academic or career path. Furthermore, we are working to broaden our student base in both number and diversity. Through our workshops and interactions with regional educational alliances, we remain dedicated to providing opportunities for our region's geoscience colleagues to learn about and benefit from the knowledge and skills we are gaining from our participation in the SAGE 2YC: Faculty as Change Agents project.


Keith: It is tempting to claim as my motivation the hope that I and my campus can survive this latest effort to re-make the 2-year campuses. I believe that our merger with UW-Green Bay will prove to be a positive thing in the near future, but for now it is an incredibly complex whirlwind of uncertainty. I am encouraged, however, by the fact that the main campus and the College of Science and Engineering Technology have clearly expressed support for a "teaching emphasis" and are implementing policies to encourage teaching, scholarship, and innovative instruction as much as other types of research. They have also clearly stated that the 2-year branch campuses will play a central role in this emphasis. I have found that understanding institutional structure is key to implementing successful change. Right now, I am working to navigate the structure of my new institution, being alert to opportunities and willing to take risks. I believe that the things I've learned as part of the SAGE 2YC Change Agent project will benefit my institution.

Mel: One of my interests in working on this grant was to develop and establish pathways for geoscience students to pursue 4 year degrees and beyond. This has been effectively accomplished by the merger of the Wisconsin two-year college campuses and the four-year comprehensives: each two-year college campus in Wisconsin is now a branch campus of a four-year campus. However, what that will entail in terms of course work and degree requirements (which are currently being developed by all of the colleges within the comprehensive university), is still speculative. I continue to be interested in maintaining a viable program at my campus and encouraging and coordinating efforts with my colleagues at the other branch campuses of the UW Green Bay (Marinette and Sheboygan). I also want to maintain communication with the members of the former geography/geology department of the former UW Colleges, who are now associated with other UW 4-year campuses. Currently, we are all changing email addresses, so the first effort is to get the new emails and then work from there, maintaining the cooperation and collaboration, which we started with this project.

Aligning with Institutional Priorities

Keith: The priorities of my institution have been in a state of flux over the past few years as the institutional structure has been evolving. Nevertheless, I do see an opportunity within the current situation to influence the form changes may take. I am on the assessment transition team and I believe I have already been able to influence the policies we are drafting in regard to instruction and other classroom practices among all of the disciplines. I think this is the best way for me to help shape priorities that are consistent with the principles I've learned from my involvement with this project.

Mel: It is very easy to get lost in the myriad of tasks, reshaping of committees, reading between the lines of instruction and direction, and understanding just what is wanted from the new institution. Although I am housed in the geoscience discipline in the natural sciences department, the demands from the discipline in the second department in which I work--College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences are significant. As the mission of UWGB and the UW System develops, I believe that my experience with the former UW Colleges and with this grant will aid my efforts to contribute in a meaningful way to the UWGB institution as a whole as well as the branch campus which I serve.

This project description is part of a collection documenting work by teams of two-year college faculty to implement high-impact, evidence-based instructional and co-curricular practices at their own institutions in pursuit of improved STEM learning, broadened participation, and a more robust STEM workforce.

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