2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 97-11
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM


ZURN-BIRKHIMER, Suzanne M., Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Purdue University, 550 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907, zurnbirk@purdue.edu and GEIER, Susan R., Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907

The GEMscholars (Geology, Environmental Science, and Meteorology) Program is a summer research program for Native American undergraduate students to conduct geoscience-related research in their home communities. The goal is to increase the number of Native American students pursuing graduate degrees in the geosciences. GEMscholars began in 2006 and was developed around the key themes of mentoring, culturally relevant valuations of geosciences and possible career paths, and connections to community and family that were derived from Native American education models. Additionally, participatory evaluation strategies were used to assess the program which led to timely and relevant yearly improvements to address the needs of the students, the concerns of the faculty mentors, and implement real-time program changes to minimize potential barriers that might limit student success.

The major barriers that were identified include a lack of a strong relationship between the stakeholders, students’ lack of academic self-confidence, and students’ lack of needed resources such as child care and transportation. The initial barrier was immediately addressed by building a rapport with tribal college administrators and key stakeholders and intentionally creating a program structure to facilitate reciprocal relationship building. The second barrier faced by the students was lack of academic self-confidence which led the participants to hold back while conducting field and lab work. To increase their academic self-confidence, students worked alongside faculty mentors in the students’ local environment as well as the mentors’ university environment. This in turn created a mutual respect between students and faculty which later developed into broadened academic and career aspirations for the students and a keen understanding of Native American culture for the faculty mentors. Lastly, the availability of resources such as money, child care and transportation was an issue for some students and contributed to poor attendance. In response, program leaders stressed the importance of attendance and helped troubleshoot solutions to students’ particular issues.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 97--Booth# 63
Geoscience Education (Posters) II
Minneapolis Convention Center: Hall C
9:00 AM-6:00 PM, Monday, 10 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 254

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