Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM
HUNTING FOR STUDENTS: OUTREACH AND RETENTION STRATEGIES IN A COMPETITIVE URBAN MARKET
The strength of a geoscience department, particularly at comprehensive urban universities, depends on developing and maintaining a steady stream of motivated undergraduate students into the program. Our undergraduate enrollment levels remain disappointingly low in spite of growing, active, and successful research and funding programs. In our urban setting, effective recruitment requires tapping pools of potential students that are unaware of the nature of the discipline or career opportunities in the geosciences. These students are often guided by families, friends, teachers and councilors, or simply by lack of knowledge, into other educational and professional disciplines. The Department of Geological Sciences at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) has embarked on an aggressive outreach program to local high schools and community colleges to atttact students to the geosciences. This program includes: leading geologic field trips for students and instructors, class visits, creating new brochures and printed material, and producing and distributing (VHS and DVD) an 8-minute professional-quality video on the Earth Sciences and our department. The video, distributed to teachers and councilors and available on our department web site (http://seis.natsci.csulb.edu/), was designed to hold the attention of students of the target age, and show the breadth and excitement of the Earth sciences.
The department of Geological Sciences has also partnered with two other CSULB departments - Geography and Anthropology (Archaeology) - in the Geoscience Diversity Enhancement Program (GDEP), a three-year, NSF-OEDG funded summer research experience for underrepresented minority students and their teachers. Our community partners included six Long Beach area community colleges and five high schools from the Long Beach Unified School District, one of the largest K-12 school districts in California. These collaborations have reinvigorated or stimulated professional development in our high school and community college instructor colleagues and led to changes in pedagogy and in grant-writing activity at their own institutions. We hope that these collaborations and connections lead to continued relationship and to an increased rate of undergraduate recruitment and retention in our department.