Geopath Talk at GSA 2017

We’ve just finished our first year of our NSF Geopath grant. My responsibility is improving retention in both the geology and environmental science majors by implemented a math mentoring program. Preliminary results will be reported a Fall GSA.

The website for the project is here.

Here is the abstract:

NYQUIST, Jonathan1, KANALEY, Chelsea1, BURRELL, Shondricka2, TORAN, Laura1, DAVATZES, Alexandra K.1 and BRANDT, Carol2, (1)Earth and Environmental Science, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, (2)Science Education, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122; Science Education, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122,
Our NSF GeoPATH Initiative has three components: recruitment, retention, and apprenticeships designed to prepare students for careers in urban geoscience. We chose the urban geoscience theme to reach demographic groups currently under-represented in the geoscience workforce. We have (1) provided career information to potential majors to inform them about geoscience careers in urban settings; (2) developed an Environmental Professional certificate program that will launch in 2018; (3) implemented a math mentoring program. Given that the requirement of two semesters of calculus is often a roadblock for students switching from non-science majors, math mentoring is key to student retention. In the math mentoring program, we paired new students with advanced geoscience majors – mentors who have completed Calculus I and II, and understand their struggles. Mentors provided peer coaching, not just tutoring, to help the students with study habits and confidence building. Students met approximately weekly with their mentors and were asked to report their test and quiz grades ensuring that they tracked their own progress. The first full semester of the program had eight recruits matched with mentors. Despite the small sample size, preliminary analysis suggests the intervention is effective. For the eight students, their previous math grade (W=withdrawal) and post-mentoring grades were: D+/C+, W/D+, C+/B, W/B-, C-/C+, C+/A-, F/C, F/D-, so all showed improvement, and 63% achieved a C or better. For comparison with unmentored students, we found student’s grades in their prerequisite math class to be a reasonable predictor of success or failure in subsequent math classes, far superior to the math SAT, high school GPA, and math placements exam scores. For example, only 36% of Temple science students with C in precalculus attained a C or better in Calculus I (N=2,283). The mentoring program will be self-sustaining because the mentors are volunteers who contribute their time from a sense of community. Moving forward towards Year 2, we plan to incorporate qualitative analytical techniques appropriate for small sample sizes. This presentation will highlight findings from Year 1 of our program and the data collection and analysis planned for Year 2.

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