Improving Science Communication and Developing Ocean Science Career Pathways through Educational Collaboration

Caitlin Tems, Weber State University, Ogden, UT, United States, Emily Bethana Rivest, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Biological Sciences, Gloucester Point, VA, United States and Regis Komperda, San Diego State University, Chemistry, San Diego, CA, United States
Exchange among graduate and undergraduate classrooms can provide educational experiences that fill gaps in traditional classroom learning. Some graduate schools offer few teaching opportunities for graduate students. Colleges without graduate programs offer few opportunities for undergraduates to understand what graduate school is like and to see themselves pursuing graduate research. Increased exchange among graduate and undergraduate classrooms may increase the number of students that pursue scientific fields, increase diversity in science, and foster the development of a well-informed public who can be active members of their communities. We developed an ongoing science communication project that integrates learning objectives in undergraduate and graduate student classrooms across the United States. The goals of this project are to (1) improve skills of graduate students for communicating science to public audiences, (2) expand undergraduate understanding of research and potential careers in the ocean/geosciences, and (3) increase the involvement of underrepresented students in ocean/geoscience fields. In 2018 and 2019, graduate students participating in a science communication course at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science video conferenced into undergraduate oceanography courses at Cuyamaca College to present their pathway through ocean science and to describe their current research. Undergraduate students were surveyed before and after the presentation series to evaluate how the activity impacted the students' understanding of the oceans as part of Earth's system, current oceanographic research, potential career paths, and desire to pursue a scientific career. Results indicate that this experience significantly impacted students' educational experience, while also improving their understanding of research and career paths in ocean science. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of this data will be explored in depth.