GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 264-1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


ALWAN, Akilah K. and MCNEAL, Karen S., Geosciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849

The Critical Incident Technique (CIT) has been employed as a qualitative method to capture the lived experiences of geoscience students relative to their pathways into the field, and to develop “pipeline” models for student recruitment in higher education. However, there is little information on critical incidences that recruit African American students into the geosciences, and furthermore retain African Americans in the field. In addition, it is possible these incidences are not unique to African Americans in the geosciences, therefore exploration across other science fields is warranted. The social science theoretical framework of Critical Race Theory (CRT) can be used to challenge the dominant narrative of white geoscientists in the field by addressing the inequities faced by African Americans in geoscience majors and careers. This study will utilize the CIT through the lens of CRT to explore the critical incidences that influence African Americans’ choice of science major and career, and how exposure to racialized experiences influence those choices. Special emphasis will be placed on the incidences that guide career trajectories amongst African Americans in the geosciences, and the personal characteristics and soft skills they feel are needed to succeed in a white dominated field. This study will also examine white students and how their perceptions of persistence and success compare to that of traditionally underrepresented African American students and professionals. It is anticipated that a total of 40-50 individuals will be interviewed in a semi-structured approach using the CIT to explore the proposed research questions. The purpose of this study is to provide new perspectives on the adversities affecting African American students’ recruitment, persistence, and success in the geosciences and seeks to provide recommendations for future student initiatives. This presentation will detail the study design of our research and provide pilot study results aimed to validate our approach for future implementation.