Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM


LEMAY, Lynsey E., BERQUIST, Peter J. and LAYOU, Karen M., Geology Department, Thomas Nelson Community College, 99 Thomas Nelson Dr, Hampton, VA 23666,

Until recently, the Geology Department at Thomas Nelson Community College was comprised of one full-time faculty and supported by 5-6 adjunct instructors per semester. Over the last six years, the program has blossomed, increasing enrollment by over two-fold, offering two new oceanography lecture and lab courses, expanding across two campuses, acquiring new laboratory supplies and equipment, and gaining one new full-time faculty member. In line with our successful capital improvements, we have developed innovative research and field-based curricula that increase student involvement and encourage preparation for career and academic aspirations. These assignments engage our students in active learning and develop their workforce skills with practice in group activities, literature reviews, laboratory techniques, technical writing, and oral presentation abilities.

The collaborative nature of how our department develops assignments is essential, not only to the success of our curriculum, but also to the strengthening of the program as a whole. Specifically, creating assignments with colleagues allows us to draw on each other’s strengths, learn from colleagues with more expertise, model the collaborative process of science for our students, and divide work to allow us to be more time efficient. The benefits of this collaborative approach further extend to fostering a sense of connectedness and inclusion among faculty members, particularly adjuncts. By maintaining consistency of assignments and expectations across courses taught by multiple faculty, we are better able to accommodate student needs. For example, during a field-based research project, students may attend any one of multiple trips to collection localities with participating instructors.

The extent of collaboration may vary across departments (of different sizes and dynamics), however, we believe that all programs can benefit from adopting/embracing a similar collaborative environment.