2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 72-7
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM


DOUGLASS, David N., Pasadena City College, 1570 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106-2003, dndouglass@pasadena.edu

The Geology Department at Pasadena City College has been in existence since the late 1920’s, and has produced numerous graduates who have gone on to successful careers in the geosciences both in industry and academia. Two recent examples include the 2013 Subaru Woman Scientist of the Year and this year’s incoming president of the American Geosciences Institute, both of whom began their geologic careers at a 2YC. These two individuals started with very different backgrounds and experiences that is a common characteristic of the 2YC student population. Since they attended a 2YC, the rate of change in both the nature of higher education and the characteristics of our student body has accelerated. A challenge for a successful, long-standing 2YC Geoscience program is to identify aspects of their program that are, and will continue to be, key elements of success for an increasingly diverse population of students. At the same time, the department must also adapt to the changing paradigm of higher education and embrace modern, student-centered teaching and learning strategies.

The PCC Geology Department has, to some extent, long been focused on experiential, hands-on, and problem-based learning even before they were formally recognized as high-impact practices. In addition, the Department’s emphasis on seeing and understanding rocks in the field in the earliest part of a student’s coursework helps to create learning communities and bring relevant, real-world experience into the classroom. Collaborative teaching, and a student study area with adjacent faculty offices all contribute to a sense of community within the department. To build on this success, the department is seeking to change in several important ways: 1) Move from a primary focus on the “best students” to “all students”; 2) Transition from a “just in case” to a “ just in time” curriculum; 3) Move from a “geology department” to a “geosciences department” that includes environmental studies, geography and GIS; 4) Creating a more integrated role for the Geosciences in the overall STEM curriculum; 5) Expand early career undergraduate research experiences for 2YC students.

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