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Math Skills and Affective Domain Interventions to Improve Success for Female Students in Geoscience Classes

Women continue to be underrepresented in the geosciences at the undergraduate level and in the workforce. Yet, there has been limited research to identify barriers that decrease persistence of women in geoscience fields. This project will examine whether or not math is a barrier to female student persistence and success in geosciences. Results of this project may provide information that can be used to increase student performance in geoscience courses and improve persistence in the geoscience majors. In this way, the project aims to support the overarching goal of broadening participation of women in geoscience fields.

A lack of math skills and/or negative affective domain factors may affect female students’ performance in introductory geoscience classes and reduce their persistence in a geoscience major. This project will identify successful instructional interventions that best improve female students’ performance in geoscience classes and persistence in a geoscience major. The project proposes two specific objectives to accomplish this goal. The first objective is to develop and implement math skills and affective domain interventions in geoscience classes. The project plans three interventions. Intervention A will focus on improving affective characteristics (e.g., increase self-efficacy; reduce anxiety). Intervention B will provide academic support in math via “The Math You Need, When You Need It” modules. These modules were developed by one of the project investigators and are publicly available through the Science Education Resource Center. Intervention C will combine both affective and math support interventions. The second objective is to examine the impact of these interventions on student performance in geoscience classes and persistence in geoscience. Results of this study will identify the impact of the three interventions on student performance, including which intervention is most successful in improving the performance of female undergraduate students.

PI: Julie Sexton

Source of Funding: NSF

Funding Program: DUE: Division of Undergraduate Education

Award Amount: $287,226

Start Date: 10/01/2018

End Date: 09/30/2021

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