GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 222-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM


BALGORD, Elizabeth1, FRANTZ, Carie M.2 and MATYJASIK, Marek2, (1)Earth & Environmental Sciences, Weber State University, 1415 Edvalson St, Ogden, UT 84408-2507, (2)Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Weber State University, 1415 Edvalson St - DEPT 2507, Ogden, UT 84408-2507

The Geoscience Education Targeting Underrepresented Populations program is a National Science Foundation funded project designed to assess the effectiveness of a multifaceted approach to increase recruitment and retention in Earth & Environmental Science (EES) majors at Weber State University (WSU) in Ogden, Utah. This program integrates a combination of early outreach to high schools, concurrent-enrollment courses, a summer bridge program, structured early undergraduate research experiences, community engaged learning, and multiple pedagogies to support a diverse student population. The focus of this presentation will be on the place-based educational approach to teaching an Earth science summer bridge program and a first-year summer research experience. These programs overlap in both time and location allowing incoming students to have peer-to-peer interactions with current EES majors.

The summer bridge program runs for two weeks and provides students with an introduction to the WSU campus, available student services, initial advising, and an early collaborative research experience focused on local natural hazards and the Great Salt Lake basin water resources. Students collect water samples from Great Salt Lake, local streams, and a groundwater well field on WSU’s campus. Students then analyze major element chemistry of those samples with the help of faculty and students in the EES department using lab facilities at WSU.

The summer research program is a four-week summer program for freshmen and sophomores who have declared an EES major. Students conduct in-depth field and lab research project on the Great Salt Lake ecosystem, using real-time geochemical data collected from field observatories on Antelope Island State Park. Students work as a team with a faculty lead and senior peer teaching assistants to address a research question by analyzing field station data as well as collecting and analyzing environmental chemistry and microbiology samples from the lake, including alkalinity, inorganic and organic carbon, major ions, cell counts, and photosynthetic efficiency. The summer research students also act as peer mentors for students in the Summer Bridge. All students present their research finding to friends and family at a celebratory event on the last day of both programs.

We will present on the successes and challenges of the program to date and our plans to assess various components and their overall impact on student recruitment and retention in our department.