Geoscience at Community Colleges: Trends in departments, student participation, and diversity

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For the past several decades, community college students have comprised approximately one-third of the total college student population enrolled in credit courses within the United States. In 2008, underrepresented minority students comprised 33 percent of total community college enrollments, and earned 26 percent of all associate degrees. Diversity at community colleges is much higher than at four-year institutions where underrepresented minorities comprise only 23 percent of total enrollments and earn 18 percent of bachelor's degrees, 17 percent of master's degrees and 10 percent of doctoral degrees. Considering that 9% of students with a geoscience Master's degree and 4% of students with a geoscience doctorate have Associate's degrees, community college students represent an important untapped resource of diverse talent for the geosciences. However, with only 233 of 1690 community colleges offering geoscience or geoscience-related degree programs, the geosciences have a very limited presence at the community college level. The majority of these 233 community colleges offer programs in Physical Science that incorporate geoscience topics into their curriculum. On average, there are fewer than five geoscience faculty members per department. This talk takes a close look at national data trends pertaining to geoscience programs at community colleges, including student participation, diversity and gender parity, and department characteristics (e.g. number of faculty, geographic distribution, etc.).

  • Leila Gonzales*
  • Geological Society of America Annual Meeting 2010