2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 186-1
Presentation Time: 8:10 AM


PHILLIPS, Preston Lee, Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creativity Office, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 133 McIver Building, PO Box 23170, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170, plphilli@uncg.edu

Training the next generation of geoscientists can be better facilitated through a well-structured curriculum where research skills development is intentionally integrated throughout. Most recognize undergraduate research as a practice that promotes increased retention, higher grades, and faster graduation rates. However, undergraduate research experiences are often optional and reserved for students who have the time, confidence and grades to pursue extra projects. Furthermore, faculty commitment to individual projects are often limited due to high demands on their time and resources. Therefore, we miss the opportunity to engage students who have the most to gain from experiential learning. The intentional integration of research and research skills development throughout the curriculum ensures benefits for all.

Entering students are often under-prepared for the rigors of higher education. Our efforts should be to promote the development of skills necessary for their success from the start. A stepwise progression from information literacy to application to analysis through synthesis of ideas, concepts, hypotheses and theories to practice will help develop greater student ownership of their education. These skills can be individually developed through course assignments and projects. Intentionality throughout the curriculum helps to remind faculty and students of the importance of process. In some cases, we must be willing implement a flipped classroom model and/or forfeit lecture content in order to develop process oriented skills. Thoughtful organization and structuring of course offerings will ensure collective development of necessary skill sets that complement and build on each other. A capstone course/experience that draws upon skills developed throughout the curriculum helps to promote a more realistic understanding of the discipline and, therefore, application of knowledge.