Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM


VAN DER HOEVEN KRAFT, Katrien J., Physical Sciences, Whatcom Community College, 237 W. Kellogg Road, Bellingham, WA 98226,

Undergraduate research (UGR) has been touted as a way for students to learn the process of science in a meaningful way. In addition, UGR has been credited for laying the grounds in recruiting students into the sciences, particularly underrepresented minorities (URM). Two-year colleges (2YC) are well situated to increase URM representation in the sciences if we can implement effective UGR experiences. And yet, the challenges of UGR are compounded in a 2YC setting. 2YC students are more likely to have developmental course needs while enrolled in introductory science courses, so they may lack the math and writing skills needed for UGR. In addition, 2YC students are more likely to be working full or part time, have families and are not residential, so any research time is limited. And yet, the benefits outweigh the challenges. In the vein of the 2YC mission, my ultimate goal for UGR in introductory geology is for class-wide exposure to research rather than simply the few academically elite. However, developing a project that assures all students can meet with success, and yet are individually challenged is difficult to attain.

In the fall semester of 2012, I observed an irregular erosional pattern in our campus parking lot and decided to pose this research question to my Geologic Disasters and the Environment course. This tied into my curriculum as part of developing a distinction between general and scientific claims. We worked on the research question, “why are there different rates of erosion in the temporary parking lot,” as a class project over several weeks, incorporating different elements such as map reading, rock analysis, and slope stability as part of the required curriculum to balance the research needs and honor university-constrained articulation agreements.

Students worked in groups of 4 to develop hypotheses, methods to test the hypotheses and constructed models to explain their hypotheses, modified and re-tested hypotheses and reported findings and made recommendations to college administrators. Student retention was 100% for the course, and generated a community of collaboration and support and resulted in an abstract submission to GSA.