GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 98-2
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM


DILEONARDO, Christopher G., Geology Department, Earth & Space Sciences Program, De Anza College, 21250 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino, CA 95014

Geoscience education at 2-year colleges has played a historically important role in fostering student pathways into STEM fields and providing critical science instruction for pre-service teachers. An increasing emphasis on inclusion of underrepresented groups in STEM fields and improving instruction for preservice teachers sparked several funding initiatives at NSF in the 1990s, through their Division of Undergraduate Education. Surveys found that the vast majority of these targeted populations were receiving their only science instruction at 2YC institutions while virtually all funding for these initiatives were going to 4-year universities and colleges. Additionally, most of the coursework in the physical sciences taken by these important populations occurred in introductory earth science classes. The importance of including 2-year colleges in efforts to reach out to targeted groups in STEM education and to preservice teachers became clear.

In 2000 Heather Macdonald from the College of William and Mary, along with three others and supported by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, submitted an unsolicited proposal to the NSF. The efforts were also championed at the NSF by then DUE Geoscience Program Director Dorothy “Dottie” LaLonde Stout. The NSF not only funded the project to bring together 55 geoscience faculty from around the country but hosted the multi-day conference at NSF headquarters in Virginia. The location and encouragement from the Director brought many program directors to sit-in on the workshop and listen to the discussions of the 2-year college faculty. These discussions focused on the restraints on 2YC faculty for broader participation in geoscience education initiatives as well unique concerns facing geoscience educators at 2-year institutions. Rather than leading directly to major initiatives in 2YC geoscience education this conference increased awareness of its critical role. Calls for proposals from DUE the following year included an emphasis in funding for projects that included 2YC institutions. As a catalyst for change this initial conference set the stage creating an environment for the success of later meetings and projects supporting the critical role of 2YC geoscience instruction nationally.