Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM
MENTORING THROUGH RESEARCH AS A CATALYST FOR THE SUCCESS OF UNDER-REPRESENTED MINORITY STUDENTS IN THE GEOSCIENCES
The Catalyst Program of the Department of Geological Sciences at California State University Northridge has been developed by four faculty members who were the recipients of a three-year award (2002-2005) from the National Science Foundation. The goal of the program is to increase minority participation and success in the geosciences. The program seeks to enrich the educational experience by introducing students at all levels (individual and team) to research in the geosciences (such as data analysis for earthquake hazards for 1994 Northridge event, paleoseismology of San Andreas fault, Waipaoa, New Zealand sedimentary system and provenance studies, and the Barstow formation geochronology and geochemistry), and to decrease obstacles that affect academic success. Both these goals are largely achieved by the formation of integrated high school, undergraduate, and graduate research groups, which also provide fulfilling and successful peer mentorship. New participants first complete a specially designed course that introduces them to peer-mentoring, collaborative learning (think-pair share), and research on geological data sets. Students of all experience levels then become members of research teams and conduct four mini-projects and associated poster presentations, which deepens academic and research skills as well as peer-mentor relationships. This initial research experience has been very beneficial for the student's degree requirements of a senior research project and oral presentation. Evaluation strategies include the student research course presentations, summer field projects, and external review of student experiences. The Catalyst Program provides significant financial support to participants to allow them to focus their time on their education. A component of peer-tutoring has been implemented for promoting additional student success. The program has been highly successful in its three year development. To date, undergraduates and graduate students have coauthored eight abstracts at professional meetings. Also, high-school students have gained first hand experience of a college course and geologic research.