Development of Geoscience Interest and Identity Of Female First-Generation Undergraduate Geoscience Students
College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; School of Teacher Education, Educational Studies
University of Northern Colorado
Type of Resources
Place of Publication
University of Northern Colorado
The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to understand how female first-generation undergraduate geoscience students developed their situational geoscience interests into individual interests that, in turn, supported their geoscience identity and decision to become a geoscience major. The experiences of six female first-generation undergraduate geoscience students were used to explore how geoscience interests and geoscience identities developed over time. I analyzed three artifacts representing participants’ geoscience identity, geoscience interest development timeline, and transcribed interviews to explore emerging themes relating to interest and identity development. Participants described events relating to their situational geoscience interests, individual geoscience interests, and the formation of their geoscience identities. Findings in this study showed geoscience interests understood by (a) qualities, (b) behavioral influencers, and (c) external influencers. The qualities of geoscience interests had themes of (a) limited breadth and depth and (b) greater breadth and depth. The behavioral influencers of geoscience interest include (a) self-led isolated learning and (b) participant action. External influencers of geoscience interest include (a) positive feedback and (b) new opportunities. The interest development findings could be described as highlighting the transformation from situational and individual interests through quality changes from (a) limited breadth and depth to (b) greater breadth and depth. Further, an indicator of a participant taking action to deepen their geoscience interests could be associated with an individual interest. External influencers of (a) positive feedback and (b) new opportunities revealed that these actions triggered or reinforced the development of geoscience interests. Contextually, there is a suggested change in the proximity of these participants to the geoscience community as they transition from situational to individual interests. The experiences associated with wellestablished geoscience interests are associated with the participant having greater access to explore new interests while they simultaneously interact with members of the geoscience community. Overlapping influences between two research questions added to the limited literature on connections between interest and identity. The themes of geoscience identity formation were focused on the participants’ explanations of the first time they felt like a “geoscience person.” Moments of geoscience identity formation explanations fit within categories of (a) competence, (b) recognition, and (c) performance. The findings of this study suggest influences on geoscience interest and identity development and demonstrated ways that geoscience interests and geoscience identity overlap. This study provided qualitative information about the development of geoscience interest and identity from the perspectives of female first-generation undergraduate geoscience students that could support greater recruitment and retention of geoscience students. All the locations relating to these moments were geoscience-focused locations or places where students were interacting with geoscience Discourse. Future studies suggest that more research is needed to better understand the interconnections of geoscience interest and identity development. Specifically, understanding how identity transforms over time and how experiences after the moment of identity formation relate to interest transformation offer insight into how interests and identities transform. Further work could explore how aspects of a geoscience identity are congruent or discordant with other identities.
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Available for download on Sunday, December 01, 2024