PROGRESS (PROmoting Geoscience Research, Education, and SuccesS)

Paul Hernandez
Associate Professor
Texas A&M University

Need:Many of the most urgent challenges facing society are rooted in the geosciences, including issues related to energy, air quality, climate, water availability, food security, and natural disasters. Women and some racial/ethnic (e.g., Black, Indigenous people, LatinX) groups continue to be marginalized, undervalued, and excluded in the geosciences, as are persons with disabilities. Our initial project recruited STEM undergraduate women to nurture their interest and persistence in the geosciences through mentoring, role models, and education. We developed PROGRESS (PROmoting Geoscience Research, Education, and SuccesS), a program that provides professional development workshops, access to female mentors and role models, and online discussions and resources. Our research showed clear benefits for women in PROGRESS such as: 1) growth of mentor and role models, 2) growth in women’s interest and persistence in geosciences, 3) determination that PROGRESS “works” because it helps women develop a stronger sense of scientific identity. Given the positive impact, we aim to scale-up and broadly distribute PROGRESS to better understand for whom, under what circumstances, and why the program has its greatest impact.Guiding Question: 1. Recruit 6 cohorts (in 7+ U.S. regions) of undergraduate STEM women from diverse and historically underrepresented (HU) backgrounds interested in geosciences into the PROGRESS program. 2. Test the scalability of PROGRESS by randomly assigning participants to alternative forms of the workshop (same or different gender post-workshop geoscience mentor). 3. Develop, Implement, and Assess a train-the-trainer model to nationally scale-up the PROGRESS program. 4. Conduct longitudinal assessment of short- and long-term outcomes (e.g., skills, psychosocial factors, and persistence) using surveys and interviews.Outcomes: 1. Recruitment (Fall 2021). Recruited first two cohorts of undergraduate STEM women from diverse and HU backgrounds into the PROGRESS program (N = 100; 41% HU backgrounds, 40% Lower division & 58% Upper division) in two U.S. regions (CO/WY & NC). 2. Scalability (Fall 2021). Randomly assigned PROGRESS participants to either same-gender or different-gender post-workshop geoscience mentors. 3. Scale-up (Spring 2020-Fall 2021). Held informational/recruitment webinars with potential geoscience collaborators in three future scale-up regions (Atlanta GA, College Station TX, El Paso TX). Implemented train-the-trainer “watch and learn” events with geoscience collaborators in three regions (N = 47) during the PROGRESS workshop in Fall 2021. 4. Assessment (Fall 2021-Spring 2022). Conducted longitudinal pre- and post-workshop assessments using surveys (N = 100) and interviews (N = 31).Broader Impacts: This project will scale-up effective practices that increase diversity in the geosciences and potentially extend best practices into other STEM fields. Evidence-based best practices for increasing the retention and persistence of diverse learners will be identified, documented and shared, contributing to shifts in the practices and broader impacts. The proposed work will span at least 7 geographic regions and multiple academic institutions (including community colleges). We aim to increase the number of undergraduates who identify as women choosing to pursue and complete a geosciences degree, or orient themselves for geoscience education in graduate school.


Rebecca T. Barnes, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO; Melissa Burt, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; Sandra M. Clinton, UNC Charlotte, Charlotte, NC; Mica Estrada, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; Megan S. Patterson, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; Ilana Pollack, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; Emily V. Fischer, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO;