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Exploring the Impacts of a Geoscience Research Experience on First-Generation College Students in Engineering-Related Majors

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2020 Mid-Atlantic Spring Conference


Baltimore, Maryland

Publication Date

March 27, 2020

Start Date

March 27, 2020

End Date

March 28, 2020

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Paper Authors


Janet Liou-Mark New York City College of Technology

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Dr. Janet Liou-Mark is a Professor of Mathematics and the Interim Director of Faculty Commons at New York City College of Technology (City Tech). She is a PI or Co-PI on three National Science Foundation grants. Dr. Liou-Mark has organized several STEM-related conferences and national conference sessions on diversifying the STEM workforce. She continues to speak at conferences and conduct workshops on best practices for underrepresented minorities in STEM. Dr. Liou-Mark was awarded the 2018 Teaching Recognition Award at City Tech, and she was selected as the 2017-2018 Scholar on Campus. She was awarded the 2017 Best of New York Award for her contributions to City Tech. Her research interest in the implementation of the Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) instructional model in mathematics has won her the 2011 CUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mathematics Instruction and the Mathematical Association of America Metro New York Section 2014 Award for Distinguished Teaching of Mathematics. She was the former Director of the Peer-Led Team Learning Leadership Program at City Tech, and she has trained over 300 underrepresented minority students majoring in a STEM discipline to be effective Peer Leaders. Moreover, Dr. Liou-Mark has personally mentored over 400 STEM students where a third are continuing or obtaining advanced STEM degrees.

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Reggie Blake New York City College of Technology

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Geophysicist who specializes in Climate Change and Climate Change Impact studies and in the application of satellite and ground-based remote sensing of the environment.

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Reina Li

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For the past decade, undergraduate research programs have been successful vehicles for retaining students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The experience of working closely with a faculty mentor and being scientifically trained have shown to benefit STEM students academically, particularly so for first-generation STEM students. These first-generation STEM college students are the first in their families to pursue postsecondary degrees, and they are currently an untapped group that has the potential to diversify and increase the engineering and scientific workforce. This study examines the impact of a nine-week summer geoscience research program for undergraduates in engineering-related majors. Self-reported pre-and post-surveys were collected from 2014-2018. The survey focused on the following areas: 1) Research Expectations; 2) Experience, Knowledge, and Ability; 3) Exposure to Research, and 4) Future Goals. There were 49 undergraduates who participated in the study. Descriptive statistics, paired-sample t-tests, and independent t-tests were used to analyze the survey responses between first-generation and non-first-generation college students. Results showed that for first-generation college students, the summer research experience increased their confidence and their knowledge of research methods; it increased their ability: to evaluate the quality of a research study, to discuss research findings, to present research findings, and to design a research poster. Moreover, first-generation college students were more confident in their ability to prepare an application to graduate school. The program also afforded the first-generation college students opportunities to participate and present their research findings at professional conference, and although they found the geoscience research experience challenging, they also found it to be enjoyable.

Liou-Mark, J., & Blake, R., & Li, R. (2020, March), Exploring the Impacts of a Geoscience Research Experience on First-Generation College Students in Engineering-Related Majors Paper presented at 2020 Mid-Atlantic Spring Conference, Baltimore, Maryland.

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