Welcome to GeoEngage!
In the Fall of 2022, the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Northwest Vista College (NVC) in San Antonio, with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), commenced a three-year program to broaden the recruitment of undergraduate students for the geoscience major using in-class interventions in introductory STEM courses (chemistry, physics, geology) and retain students in the geoscience major using service-learning activities. Undergraduate students will improve academic preparedness and career awareness. Key components of this program include in-person and online intervention modules, opportunities for service-learning activities that benefit the San Antonio communities, and mentoring.
Despite concerted effort over the last two decades, the size and diversity of the geoscience workforce has not significantly changed to meet the projected demand for geoscientists, which has major consequences for the sustainability of natural resources and overall environmental quality that supports a strong economy and ensures the health and welfare of all United States residents. This project aims to address this shortfall using an innovative curriculum program to recruit and retain more undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups; it will promote interest in geoscience within NVC, a two-year institution where geoscience courses are limited and facilitate transfer pathways from NVC to UTSA, a four-year institution. Both partnering colleges are Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Moreover, the program will improve retention to degree completion so students earn the educational credential needed to enter the geoscience workforce. The new insights gained from the program will form a model of best practices that can be adapted and implemented at other universities to grow a larger, more diverse geoscience workforce.
This project aims to broaden participation and enhance retention in geoscience by implementing and testing the effectiveness of a three-stage early intervention strategy within the undergraduate degree pipeline. Conducted at the Hispanic Serving Institutions of Northwest Vista College and the University of Texas at San Antonio, the three-year program will generate greater awareness of and interest in geoscience in introductory STEM courses and promote retention through extracurricular service-learning projects.
In introductory geoscience, chemistry, and physics courses, four modules will test the effectiveness of a recruitment strategy that targets specific barriers and motivations to broaden and diversify the pool of geoscience majors and minors. A two-level sequence of team-based service-learning projects will be used to deepen geoscience knowledge, build project-based experience, and grow independence and responsibility in participants to increase disciplinary interest and motivation and develop geoscience identity and community. Participants will be supported by multi-level mentoring, advising, a transfer bridging event, and stipends; a program-specific interactive website will facilitate formal and informal learning and interactions between students, faculty, professionals, and community.
The project design permits a critical test of a recruitment approach that targets a wider pool of potential majors and the critical elements of service-learning projects that promote learning and retention. The new knowledge identified from formative and summative program assessments will be widely transferrable because it focuses on introductory courses that are generally offered at many institutions and experiential learning experiences that can flourish independently from formal coursework. The best practices that result will be widely disseminated for broader adaptation in diverse institutional settings to help increase the number and diversity of students earning bachelor’s degrees in geoscience.