GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 154-7
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM


RESNICK, Cheryl Emerson, Math/Science/Engineering, Illinois Central College, One College Drive, East Peoria, IL 61635, BAUER, Jennifer E., Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 and LAM, Adriane R., Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 611 N. Pleasant St, Amherst, MA 01003

One strand in the SAGE 2YC “Faculty As Change Agents” project, co-led by Heather MacDonald, is to broaden participation in the geosciences. Research indicates that diversity is a problem in STEM fields. This lack of diversity in STEM disciplines at major universities can also be found in 2YC’s where the population of diverse groups is often higher than at 4YC’s. It is well documented in the literature that representation of minorities in society matters for participation. Representation is a challenge for the geosciences and can act as a barrier to recruiting and retaining these students. Social media platforms can be used to increase students’ perception of their own science identity and introduce them to other diverse scientists.

Participating in this SAGE 2YC project introduced me to the concept of science identity. Identity broadly refers to how individuals see themselves fitting into a specific role in a given situation. Studies have shown that students with an improved science identity are more likely to pursue a STEM career field. Even if they do not choose to become a professional scientist, their science identity can influence future decisions regarding their career, public policy, and more.

To enhance students' perception of their own science identities, I developed curricula based upon digital education tools, namely the Common Descent podcast and Time Scavengers blog series. Both of these platforms are designed to increase public (including student) literacy regarding paleontology, climate change, and evolutionary theory. In addition, each platform showcases the diversity of scientists that work in STEM fields. Representation has a strong power to influence a sense of belonging. Many of the scientists highlighted on these platforms attended a 2YC at some point along their educational path. Seeing a reflection of themselves, these scientists cultivate a sense of “Just Like Me” with my students.