Professional Development Institutes for Community College Faculty
Community colleges (2YC) play an important role in providing ocean science education for undergraduates. The 2YC science curriculum serves a large number of non-science students, and a smaller number of students who enter the ocean science work force. Community colleges provide access to a diverse audience, particularly groups that are underrepresented in science; nationally 53% of Hispanics, 45% of African Americans, 52% of Native Americans and 40% of first generation college students in higher education are enrolled at community colleges. Classes that include ocean science topics are taught in a variety of departments by faculty from various science disciplines, many of whom did not major in an ocean discipline.
Since 2009, COSEE Pacific Partnerships (COSEE-PP) has offered nine week-long residential professional development institutes at marine laboratories in Oregon, Washington, and Hawai'i that bring together 2YC faculty and research scientists who are investigating ocean and coastal ecosystems with the goal of improving the quality, and increase the quantity, of ocean science content taught at community colleges. These institutes provide 2YC faculty with knowledge about current topics in ocean sciences, provide materials and field and laboratory activities, and strengthen the network of 2YC faculty improving the learning of ocean science. With each institute, an increased emphasis was placed on developing action plans for how faculty will incorporate the information into their curriculum and developing ways to engage students in research within the 2YC setting.
In 2013 COSEE-PP undertook a summative evaluation of the effects of the first eight 2YC faculty institutes offered. The results indicate that the format is an effective professional development model that resulted in quality improvements in ocean science teaching. The institutes increased participants’ confidence in teaching about and their knowledge of current ocean science research. In addition, the results show that the use of individual and group action plans, developed during the course of the institutes, provided a useful resource for the faculty.
COSEE Pacific Partnerships, a regional Center based at marine laboratories in Oregon, Washington, California, & Hawai'i seeks to integrate research and education for community colleges, informal science education professionals, and volunteers.
Jan Hodder Oregon Institute of Marine Biology University of Oregon