Community colleges served over 7.5 million students in 2009, and have a more diverse student population than four-year institutions. In 2008, 58% of community college students were women and 33% of students were underrepresented minorities. Community colleges provide a large diverse pool of untapped talent for the geosciences and for all science and engineering disciplines. The most recent data from NSF's 2006 NSCRG database indicate that within the physical sciences, 43% of Bachelor's, 31% of Master's and 28% of Doctoral recipients had attended community college. Until recently, fine-grained datasets for examining the prevalence of community college education in geoscience students' academic pathways has not been available. Additionally, there has been limited information regarding the availability of geoscience programs and courses at community colleges. In 2011, the American Geological Institute (AGI) expanded its Directory of Geoscience Departments (DGD) to cover 434 community colleges that offer either geoscience programs and/or geoscience curriculum, and launched the first pilot of a standardized National Geoscience Exit Survey. The survey collects information not only about students' pathways in the university system and future academic and career plans, but also about community college attendance including geoscience course enrollments and Associate's degrees. The National Geoscience Exit Survey will be available to all U.S. geoscience programs at two- and four-year colleges and universities by the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, and will also establish a longitudinal survey effort to track students through their careers. Whereas the updated DGD now provides wider coverage of geoscience faculty members and programs at community colleges, the Exit Survey provides a rich dataset for mapping the flow of students from community colleges to university geoscience programs. We will discuss the availability of geoscience courses and programs at community colleges, examine existing faculty demographics, and explore the prevalence of community college coursework in geoscience university students' educational pathways. We will also examine the flow of students who took geoscience courses at community colleges to the geoscience university programs from which they graduated to identify areas of potential collaboration between two-year and four-year institutions.
- American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2011