Paper No. 15
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM
COMBINING LECTURES AND LABORATORY TO ENHANCE INQUIRY-BASED LEARNING: A MAJOR COMPONENT OF A COMPREHENSIVE RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION STRATEGY
The Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State is engaged in a multi-faceted effort to increase enrollment and retention, with particular emphasis on under-represented groups. A major part of our effort involves a new introductory course design that integrates lectures and laboratories to engage first-year students in group-oriented, undergraduate research. This concept builds upon our physics departments successful model (http://www.physics.ncsu.edu/physics_ed/) of integrated introductory lectures/labs. Students interested in science majors take an introductory course developed as part of our NSF STEP grant, Environmental Issues in Water Resources, which uses the integrated design and focuses on a local watershed. The emphasis on undergraduate research continues with Environmental Geology, an upper division course in which the class studies water and sediment contamination on local watersheds as a group research project. Under an NSF Opportunities for Enhancement of Diversity in Geosciences grant, parallel courses are being offered at Robeson Community College (77% of students from under represented groups). Following the group research courses, advanced undergraduate students are placed in traditional research labs with faculty mentors while enrolling in a career development seminar in which research methods, proposal writing and presentation skills are introduced.
New student recruitment is facilitated by a trained graduate student who visits high schools and presents a multi-media presentation on research at NCSU and career opportunities in the geosciences and leads hands-on activities. A summer camp and bridge course are also offered. Participants are solicited through The Science House, a college outreach center (http://www.science-house.org/) that annually reaches half the K-12 science teachers in the state. Tutoring and mentoring programs provide support for all majors. Formative assessment is ongoing, including pre and post surveys to assess course effectiveness and changes in attitudes toward science.