NSF TUES: Development of an Active Learning Gemology Studio Course: Introducing Nonscience Majors to the STEM Curriculum
This project is creating a studio-learning environment for community college students studying gemology and integrating active learning techniques and guided laboratory explorations in order to attract early-career, nontraditional students to the geosciences and STEM curriculum. Activities and associated assessments are being used to incorporate and adapt specific pedagogical techniques such as studio and active learning that have shown efficacy at four-year colleges in engaging early-career students and stimulating their interest in science and STEM careers.
Formative and summative evaluations are being applied to the course. Formative evaluation tools, to gauge course effectiveness and make modifications where necessary, are based on students' responses to cognitive and affective measures, including self-efficacy beliefs, nature of science measures, student perceptions of learning gains, science interests, and knowledge surveys. The PIs are assessing the relative effectiveness of teaching modules and methodologies, web-based instructional materials, field trips, independent research, and the value of interaction with the local mineralogical club. The summative evaluations are providing an understanding of the effectiveness of the 'enticement of gemology,' examining mastery of course content, gains in student interest in the geosciences and STEM fields and careers, quality of student research presentations, and course retention compared to a lecture-only gemology course. Through these evaluations, the PIs are increasing our understanding of how to engage and retain early-career, non-science majors in a broad range of STEM topics central to earth science.
The PIs are actively disseminating information about student learning outcomes and teaching methodologies that are most effective within the community college setting for encouraging continuation in science and recruitment of early career students to the geosciences and STEM at geological meetings with workshops and presentations, through peer-reviewed publications, and by developing a series of online modules and activities.