2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 15
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


CLEMENS-KNOTT, Diane1, BOWMAN, David D.2, KIRBY, Matthew E.2, KNOTT, Jeffrey R.2 and WOODS, Adam D.2, (1)California State University, Fullerton, CA 92834, (2)California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA 92834, dclemensknott@fullerton.edu

Recruitment of majors is a common challenge for geology departments nationwide. At California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) approximately 50% of our majors are recruited from the 2000 freshmen to seniors annually enrolled in 20 lecture sections of Physical Geology. Due to the large class size, field trips and co-enrollment in the lab are not required. We hypothesized that the large class size, lack of lab exposure, and inability to attend field trips inhibits recruitment of majors, so we are experimenting with offering alternatives to Physical Geology. The alternative classes are smaller (24 to 60 students); limited to freshmen; have coupled lecture, lab and field trips; and are topical (Earth's Atmospheres and Oceans; Earthquakes and Volcanoes; Dinosaur World). Our greatest challenge was restricting the student level. CSUF freshmen get priority enrollment during the Fall semester only, and getting information to new students the summer before they attend campus is problematic. We circumvented this problem by offering our courses through the University's Office of Freshman Programs, but doing so requires us to offer a service-learning component with each course: field-based analysis of the health of Big Bear Lake; construction of public interest earthquake/eruption web pages, and hazards response training; and preparation of Orange County fossils. Three-day camping trips in the 60-student courses are supported by grants from CSUF Associated Students.

We have offered each course once since Spring 2005. In surveys managed by CSUF and Freshman Programs, the topical courses and their instructors have received exceptionally high student ratings. Although preliminary data suggest that recruitment of majors per capita from the topical courses does not differ from the Physical Geology lecture series, anecdotal data suggests that recruitment of geology minors may be higher. We will use Geoscience Concept Inventory tests to assess whether the two course formats result in meaningful differences in student learning.