GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 133-10
Presentation Time: 4:05 PM


WALKER, Becca, Department of Earth Sciences and Astronomy, Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, CA 91789, HALL, Sarah R., College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 and SCHMIDT, Calla M., Department of Environmental Science, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94117,

The impending shortage of personnel in the geoscience workforce has created a need for programs that aid in recruitment, retention, skills development, and awareness of career opportunities for students at 2-year colleges and 4-year colleges and universities. In particular, programs with strong field and career preparation components have the potential to prepare undergraduates for entry-level geoscience positions and enhance both the retention of students in STEM fields and the diversity of the geoscience workforce. We report on the goals, structure, curricular elements, and assessment and evaluation plan of an NSF GEOPATH-Extra program, Field-based professional development for ESTEM undergraduates. A collaboration between University of San Francisco, a comprehensive university; College of the Atlantic, a liberal arts college; and Mt. San Antonio College, a community college, the ESTEM (environmental-STEM) program aims to create a professional development experience to facilitate undergraduate transition into the geoscience workforce. Students will participate in a summer field course based in the Sierra Nevada region of CA, where they will complete a variety of interdisciplinary, field-based modules with components of hydrology, geology, geomorphology, and ecology and interface with geoscience professionals from the National Park Service, Southern Sierras Critical Zone Observatory, and others. Based on survey results from stakeholders (ESTEM professionals), we identified key career skills from which we developed a series of badges that students may earn during the field course and subsequently use to document their skills and content knowledge for prospective employers. Following the field course, students will participate in a career seminar at their respective institutions led by faculty PIs and local geoscience professionals. In partnership with the Science Education Resource Center, formative and summative assessments will be administered to measure the efficacy of program components in meeting project goals. We will also discuss the challenges of a multi-institution professional development program of this nature and considerations for the adoptability of similar programs by other institutions.