January 10, 2016

2nd Summit on the Future of Undergraduate Geoscience Education, Day 2

Posted by Laura Guertin

You can check out my blog posts from Day 1 and Day 3 of the Summit, as well as my posts from the 1st Summit

This day is a little more difficult to pull together to summarize. Our topics ranged from barriers, solutions, and incentives, to recruitment and retention of underrepresented students.  We started the day with a review of what the 1st Summit reported as barriers to implementing research-validated pedagogies and uses of technology – resources (including financial, annual performance evaluations for P&T, lack of time/support for developing/piloting new instructional approaches, etc.) instructional design space and teaching infrastructure, lack of information on what techniques are research-validated, and a concern about student evaluations. The 1st Summit also called attention to the “image” of geoscience – how we look in our print/online materials, and how students perceive what/who a geologist is. (A quick note that one resource popular with many departments is showing students the “Earth is calling… will you answer?” video on the Be A Geo website.)

The morning panel was full of ideas, examples, and resources for overcoming barriers, finding solutions, and creating incentives and rewards. David Matty (Weber State University) reminded us that it is all about perspective, motivation, rewards, and “baggage” (faculty that are not interested and/or just don’t care). He shared many resource intensive options (workshops, short courses, invited consultants, awards, etc.) and resource “light” approaches (publications, webinars, NAGT Traveling Workshops, SERC website, in-house mentoring, etc.). His take-home message is important to remember:

Short-term efforts can produce long-term gains. Have the passion, and make it a priority.  —  David Matty (Weber State)

We also heard from Walt Robinson (North Carolina State University), who emphasized the value of sending new faculty to a On the Cutting Edge Early Career Workshop and all department faculty (those focused on pedagogy and those less familiar) to the Earth Educators’ Rendezvous. He also suggested including in faculty department job ads the expectation for quality of instruction. Cailin Huyck Orr (SERC) shared several examples of helpful resources on the InTeGrate site (I’ve posted those links at the end of this post).

There are two books that were consistently referred to yesterday and today as good books to have copies of on our office shelves – Discipline-Based Education Research and Reaching Students: What Research Says About Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering.

Here are two additional books that were mentioned at the Summit today – Integrating Discovery-Based Research Into the Undergraduate Curriculum and Creating Self-Regulated Learners.

The day continued with a mixture of panels and working group discussions and reports (the full agenda is available online). Today’s breakout groups were reorganized to cluster faculty from similar types of institutions and/or faculty facing similar issues. The purpose of the morning breakout session was to individually develop a plan for how to move our own institutions forward when we return to campus. As we worked on our plans, we were encouraged to share and discuss with our groups how we might be able to proceed. The afternoon breakout session had a specific challenge:

  • Robust enrollments and broad participation of students from diverse groups benefit from best practices in recruitment, retention and, increasingly, support of transfer students from both sending and receiving institutions. To what extent does your department employ such practices? What steps might you take, and with what partners, to strengthen recruitment, retention and transfer support?

The afternoon panel focused on recruitment and retention of underrepresented geoscience students and empowering transitions between 2YCs and 4YCs. Joshua Villalobos (El Paso Community College) shared his excellent program and partnership with Diane Doser at Univ. of Texas at El Paso, where students do research and are prepared for the transfer to complete geology degrees at UTEP. Both campuses are HSIs, and Joshua made a pretty strong statement: “If my students cannot see themselves as a geologist, then I’m wasting my time… now that they are doing geological research and saw themselves as a geologist, I had to get the 2+2 program in place.” He and Diane shared great thoughts about all of the steps in the process of having a successful student transfer experience.

Chris Keane (AGI) I think posed one of the most challenging questions to the group… what constitutes success for diversity in your eyes? How do you know if/when you have achieved it (once we have it defined)?

As with yesterday’s post, I won’t repeat here all of the information that was presented and summarized in the PowerPoints (*Note that this blog post will be updated with appropriate links as materials/presentations from Day 2 are placed on the Summit website), but here are some of the excellent resources I made note of and recommend for others to check out if you are not aware of them (or as a refresher of all the great resources out there!):

Our final day is a half day for each of us to generate a working plan for moving forward when we return home, as well as identify the unresolved issues and determine where external help will be necessary.