North-Central Section - 57th Annual Meeting - 2023

Paper No. 10-2
Presentation Time: 1:50 PM


MCLEOD, Claire1, SIPOLA, Maija2, BRUDZINSKI, Michael1 and KREKELER, Mark1, (1)Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, Miami University, 118 Shideler Hall, Oxford, OH 45056, (2)Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, Miami University, 118 Shideler Hall, 250 S. Patterson Ave., Oxford, OH 45056

For the past two years the Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science at Miami University, OH, has enrolled all their new graduate students in a 1-credit hour onboarding course. This course aims to elucidate the so-called “hidden curriculum” by intentionally designing a curriculum that provides students with knowledge and resources to support their success. Through this approach, we also aim to contribute to establishing a more inclusive and welcoming environment within our graduate program.

Prior to engaging in curriculum design and formal course approval processes, an anonymous survey was issued to our graduate student cohort (March, 2021). The purpose of this was to: 1) evaluate interest in a potential onboarding course, 2) gain insights into which topics students would benefit from discussing, 3) which course modality would best integrate into their existing program requirements, and 4) how regularly the course should meet during the semester.

An initial offering of the course in Fall 2021 (12 students) included the following topics: graduate degree timelines and requirements, teaching, mental health, time management, dealing with rejection, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the geosciences, and networking. The course met every 2 weeks with anonymous feedback surveys issued following each session. Surveys were issued via Google Forms, contained 5-8 questions, and received a 75%-83% response rate throughout the semester. A 13-question end-of-semester survey was issued to gain feedback on the course overall (58% response rate).

In Fall 2022 ~40% of the course was modified based on feedback from the Fall 2021 student cohort with a new session on science communication offered. A survey to all students who have completed the course over the past 2 years will be issued in Spring 2023. The purpose of this survey is to 1) evaluate the impact of the onboarding course on program readiness and preparedness, and 2) assess the extent to which course design and associated activities contributed to cultivating a sense of belonging in the department, and 3) consider whether current course session offerings are addressing our students’ needs. Results from surveys, directions for our 2023 onboarding course, and recommendations for other departments considering implementing a similar course will be presented.