GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 155-13
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


VAN DER HOEVEN KRAFT, Katrien J., Science, Whatcom Community College, 237 W. Kellogg Road, Bellingham, WA 98226 and GEARY, Edward, Science, Mathematics, & Technology Education, Western Washington University, 516 High St., MS-9126, Bellingham, WA 98225,

Students transferring from two-year colleges (2YC) to four-year colleges/universities (4YC/U) are more successful when the transfer process is clear for the student, classes are well articulated between institutions, students are well prepared academically for the content at the transfer institution, and students feel valued and respected at their new institution. In order for these criteria to be met, conversations between geoscience departments and faculty are critical. But when considering geoscience transfer, the geoscience courses are not the only courses students must take to be successful at the 4YC/U. For successful geoscience transfer, students need to be well prepared in other STEM domains. As a result, the conversations between and across departments must be cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional.

Change at the core (C-Core), a NSF-funded institutional transformation project involving 90+ STEM faculty across 3 interlinked institutions (Western Washington University and the neighboring 2YC’s, Skagit and Whatcom) focuses on student-centered learning in geology, biology, chemistry, physics, math, engineering, and computer science. A primary goal of C-Core is to increase underrepresented minority representation in STEM fields. The C-Core model is based on the premise that once you create a critical mass of reformed instructors, student-centered, inclusive learning will become the standard in a given department. This model has been implemented through ongoing professional development and faculty learning communities across institutions and across disciplines within institutions. These ongoing conversations help to break down walls, increase collaboration, make content more consistent for students across all institutions, and develop new partnerships and opportunities for students and faculty. Recent findings indicate that this sustained professional development has resulted in changes in practice, and increased the amount of intra and inter institutional collaboration.

While not all institutions can be funded for this opportunity, the importance of making space for conversations may inspire other institutions to think more globally about how to create incentives at their own institutions. This may begin with deans and chairs, but needs to include buy-in from the faculty.