2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


HORNS, Daniel, Earth Science, Utah Valley State College, 800 W University Pkwy, Orem, UT 84058-5999, DINKLAGE, William S., Earth Science, Utah Valley State College, 800 West University Pkwy, Orem, UT 84058 and BUNDS, Michael, Department of Earth Science, Utah Valley State College, 800 West University Parkway, Orem, UT 84058-5999, hornsda@uvsc.edu

Utah Valley State College (UVSC) is an open-enrollment, four-year college. Because we are an open-enrollment college, we deal with many students who have little confidence in their academic abilities and/or who do not take college very seriously. Due to these factors, UVSC suffers from a relatively high rate of attrition. In an effort to improve our students' academic experience, and thereby improve student retention, the Department of Earth Science at UVSC has been conducting research designed for participation by sophomore- and junior-level students. The sophomore- and junior-level students are supervised by senior-level students and faculty. We have found that, despite their relative lack of related classroom experience, the early-stage students make significant contributions to the research effort. These students collect and label samples, measure orientations of samples and rock structures, map geologic features, and help run survey equipment. They are also able to accomplish higher-level tasks commonly associated with research. Some of these include project definition, project management, team collaboration, data analysis and interpretation, communication of their work, and understanding the significance of their work in a broader scientific and societal context. We believe that the full range of these experiences is of great benefit to the students and that these benefits translate into greater interest and retention in the earth science major. During summer 2005 and the past academic year we have involved six undergraduates in research. We surveyed them to assess how being involved with research has affected their self confidence, their interest in the earth sciences, their feeling that earth science is relevant to them, and their motivation to complete their degrees. In all four categories the research experience, on average for the group, produced an improvement in the quality or characteristic we asked about, with the greatest improvement being in increased interest in earth sciences and increased motivation to complete the degree.