FANNING THE FLAMES OF STUDENT INTEREST: DUAL CREDIT COURSES AND RECRUITMENT OF GEOSCIENCE MAJORS
Students enroll in DC geoscience courses for many reasons. A 2010 pre-course survey of ESOP students revealed that 72% (N = 168) indicated that interest in the topic was a factor in taking the course. 57% indicated that interest was the most important reason for taking the course and 23% reported that geoscience was a topic that they were interested in studying in college. 19% of the students reported that peer recommendation was the most important factor in enrolling in ESOP. The ESOP teacher’s reputation was the most important factor for 9% of students.
47 students completed a post-course survey in 2011. Reasons for taking the ESOP course were not significantly different from the pre-course survey, suggesting that DC geoscience courses preserve rather than create student interest in the geosciences.
A 2012-13 case study in a suburban PA high school revealed that 38% (N = 42) of students enrolled in a DC course through ESOP agreed or strongly agreed that they would consider a geoscience major in college. This contrasts starkly with the control group at the same school where 81% (N = 47) of students in AP courses disagreed or strongly disagreed that they would consider majoring in a geoscience. The DC students had greater awareness of geoscience career opportunities than AP students. Interviews with a subset of DC students revealed a strong preference for DC over AP courses.
Our data support Holbrook’s (1997) contention that students’ choice of a science major correlates with exposure to that science in high school. These data support previous reports that most students choose a major before leaving high school. This clearly impacts recruitment from on campus intro courses because many potential majors have self-selected out of taking geoscience courses while in high school. DC geoscience courses preserve student interest and increase the likelihood that students will choose a geoscience major in college.