October 20, 2014 by Dr. G
My talk was this morning, so I decided to camp out in my session room to hear the other fascinating oral presentations on the topic of Supporting Student Successes in Colleges & Universities. There were twelve 15-minute talks in this session, along with a 15-minute introduction, 15-minute break halfway through and a 15-minute discussion period at the end. My talk was titled “Helping Students Open Doors to Undergraduate Research Experiences Upon Transfer” and I’ve made the presentation available through Penn State’s ScholarSphere. I decided to get to the room before the 8AM start time so I could take some pictures for you, my students, on what a session room looks like! Check out the slideshow below to see the setup of Room 210.
The opening comments by the session chairs was incredibly effective, challenging all of us to answer the question: what is student success? What may seem like a simple question certainly did not reveal any simple answers! Several of the presenters brought up suggestions that perhaps students success is defined by participation, success in a course, progression through a degree program, and completion of a degree. Others noted that success is defined differently by a state, an institution, the faculty, and by students. One speaker pointed out that we could define success with where it starts – with the students, and that faculty are a part of success when we oversee the pathways and models. This was a lot to think about, and it is something I know I want to spend more thinking about – for my students (my advisees, undergraduate researchers, classroom students, etc.), what is student success? And is it the same for each and every student? Hmmm…..
Here are some interesting/random points from the morning I jotted down:
- If we lose students before degree completion, it is a loss to society, to the institution, and to the student
- Intentional professional preparation courses for senior geology majors should include a component called professionalism and ethics, examining honesty, respect, enthusiasm, integrity, trustworthiness, and responsibility (this is not covered in other courses, yet is so important to the student in their professional career!)
- Employers are OK with the content knowledge students are coming out with, but they want to see students better prepared with communication skills, writing skills, and professionalism
- Faculty should each challenge themselves to write a cultural autobiography to see how their cultural background informs their teaching (this sounds like a valuable exercise I want to try!)
- Scientific jargon is a barrier to student learning (see this great abstract about the research!)
- Professional organizations are interested in learning what factors promote student interest in geology and geology careers – and it seems to be the instructor, student peers, and non-college academic experiences that are the largest factors, not a previous middle school or high school Earth science class.
One final wrap-up of the morning… I already shared how we struggled in the session on how to define student success. And if we can’t define student success, then how can we be successful?
Perhaps I should attend more talks and posters to get more ideas…. time to grab lunch and keep on going!