SUCCESSES AND CHALLENGES OF IMPLEMENTING A STUDENT-CENTERED EARTH SCIENCE CURRICULUM AT THE NATION’S LARGEST SINGLY-ACCREDITED STATEWIDE COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM
Student-centered learning is an approach to education focusing on the needs of the student rather than the needs of the institution. Ivy Tech’s statewide system mandates standardized objectives and syllabi, so full student-driven learning is difficult to achieve. The new student-centered course design implemented at the Indianapolis campus utilizes smaller, more frequent, student-determined projects and assessments to improve student engagement and relevancy to their own lives. Students are still held to the core Ivy Tech standards; however in this model, a variety of learning styles, self-reflection, hands-on activities, out-of-classroom experiences, and current geoscience research build a framework of educational scaffolding to help ensure student success. Pre- and post-semester surveys, student reflection, and overall student achievement rates were used to assess success of the new student-centered curriculum. Specifically, under the student-centered curriculum, the overall percentage of students receiving an “A” more than doubled and the overall percentage of student receiving an “F” decreased by two-thirds compared to the same course results from the previous year. This new student-centered curriculum has been vetted within one full-time geoscience faculty’s classroom and is currently being disseminated throughout numerous adjunct faculty classrooms at various campuses across the state with similar success rates.