Geoscience Academic Provenance Series - Critical Incidents: Why Students Chose to Pursue the Geosciences

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Houlton (2010) found that three geoscience student populations followed six distinct pathway steps in pursuing their career in the discipline (see Geoscience Currents #45-46). Within the students’ pathways, two steps specically identify Pre-College and College Critical Incidents: specic events, situations or inuences students experienced that lead them to make certain choices or changes in behavior (Flanagan, 1954). Traditionally, critical incidents act on behavior either positively or negatively (Levine et al., 2007; Per. Comm. Levine, 2010). However, Houlton‘s data (2010) identied two dierent types of critical incidents:

Supportive Critical Incidents confirm the decision to major in the geosciences. They reinforce students’ choice and do not catalyze behavioral change.

Behavior Altering Critical Incidents catalyze students' decision to pursue a geoscience major through experiences, actions or interactions that introduce them to the geosciences or remind them of forgotten interests.

To read Houlton’s full study, go to:

View an in-depth discussion of this information in the corresponding Geoscience Currents Discussion Webinar.