Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Multidisciplinary Studies - Individualized Option, M.A.


Multidisciplinary Studies


Kevin K. Williams, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Earth Sciences

Department Home page

First Reader

Catherine Lange, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Science Education

Second Reader

Brian Meyer, Ph.D., Lecturer in Science Education


Educational priorities in STEM at the undergraduate level include sparking leadership and innovation in emerging and rapidly changing fields and educating a scientifically literate populace. These priorities depend on the nature and quality of the undergraduate educational experience (NSF IUSE Program, 2015). This study focuses on investigating student attitudes and department engagement with the resulting data offering a snapshot of student interests, values, and resource awareness.

During the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters, 359 students studying Introductory Geology, Introductory Geology Lab, Introductory Astronomy, or The Solar System and two professors who taught those classes were asked to take part in an anonymous survey, which asked them to reflect on different aspects of the introductory geoscience experience. Questions included reasons for taking the course, interpretations of course content, their personal impact on course outcomes, past experiences with science, and awareness of department and college offerings.

Analyses show that introductory geoscience courses attract students from across different majors as well as from the natural science disciplines, and nearly one in four respondents is a first-generation college student. Most students in these classrooms are seeking to fulfill the State University of New York natural science requirement but also indicate a general interest prior to course selection. Students demonstrated a limited knowledge of campus and department offerings. Study results help inform the Department of Earth Sciences and Science Education about student attitudes toward introductory courses, which may lead to developments in future department offerings.