2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM


GOOD, Steven C., Department of Geology & Astronomy, West Chester Univ, West Chester, PA 19383 and FISHER, Cynthia G., Geology and Astronomy, West Chester Univ, 750 S. Church Street, West Chester, PA 19383, sgood@wcupa.edu

Our department has approximately 75 majors subequally divided between the B.S. major that trains students for the environmental field or graduate school, and the BSEd major that prepares students as middle and high school science teachers. The Chancellor of the PA State System of Higher Education has mandated all science and math programs to growth their student populations by 5%. WCU has responded with funding for recruitment, investment in infrastructure and equipment, and the Freshman Scholars program. The Freshman Scholars program funds students to participate in a faculty member’s research. In our department the freshman scholars have been assigned to a micropaleontology research group, where they interact with upper class geology majors. Often senior students consider the consequences of switching programs (BS students investigate science teaching, or BSEd students inquire about careers in the environmental industry). Many environmental geologists request transcript evaluations to earn the PA Earth Science teaching certificate, and Earth Science teachers inquire about pursuing a research Master’s degree. We find that students with BS Geology degrees need Astronomy, Oceanography, Meteorology, and 30 hours of education courses. Earth Science teachers pursuing a geology career or graduate school, need petrology, structural geology, stratigraphy, and more chemistry, physics and math. To facilitate late program changers and post-baccalaureate career changers, we have taken three actions. The department developed the BS Earth Systems track that is a curricular hydrid of the BS and BSEd programs. The department provides experiences for freshman and sophomores to work with public school students; participate in faculty research; volunteer with the local USGS office, or intern with an environmental firm. We host a “Careers in the Earth Sciences Workshop”. We invite three alumni (a teacher, a USGS or EPA scientist, and a private sector environmental geologist) to briefly describe entry salaries, academic and experiential preparation, a typical day at work, etc.. We then have two breakout sessions, where students interact in small groups with 2 of the 3 guests. Freshman and Sophomore students who participate in the workshop are less prone to senior program changing and more likely to do internships.