Abstract -- I teach at a small campus in the Penn State system that offers the first two years of science programming. There are no upper-division science courses taught, and science faculty are not provided dedicated space for research activities. Although all of the tenure-line faculty are required to do research, the research culture on campus is not visible nor shared with students. Students view the science faculty only as classroom instructors and are not aware of our other responsibilities and how we engage in our disciplines outside of teaching. For example, when I leave during the semester to attend a conference, students joke with me that I must be going on vacation, as the primarily freshmen/sophomore students in my introductory-level general education Earth science courses do not understand why I would not show up to teach. Over the years, I have become more frustrated with students not understanding that I am more than a classroom instructor, that my professional identity includes scientist, researcher, mentor, conference presenter and innovator. But this is not the fault of the students. I cannot magically create a geology research laboratory on campus, but I can do a better job sharing with students the responsibilities that go along with a faculty position, including the research “hat” that I wear. To address this lack of knowledge, upon my return from a conference, I would give a full-day PowerPoint presentation to my classes with photos about what I did and learned while I was away. I would take photos of the room where I gave a talk, the displays in the exhibit and poster halls, etc. Although I was pleased with the reception of these classroom lectures by the students, I soon realized that these presentations were a “one and done” format; once I lectured, the students never had access to the information again. In addition, I am noticing recent rules and policies against taking photographs in exhibit and poster halls as well as other areas of conference venues. In mid-2012, I decide to start a blog. I was not a blogger before this project, but I felt that a blog would be able to accomplish my overarching goal of sharing my professional activities as a scientist/faculty member with students. Each day I am away at a workshop, conference or field seminar, I now blog at the end of the day about what I did, what I saw, and what I learned. I write the posts as if I am talking to a student and include links and photos to enhance the posts. One of my early challenges was to find the energy at the end of a conference day to write a blog entry. But I now make blogging part of my daily conference activities. It is a challenge to measure the full impact of my blog. Rarely have students posted comments to my entries, but many of my students do ask follow-up questions upon my return to campus and/or send me tweets via Twitter. Some even scroll through the blog and read about my past professional experiences. One added benefit is that in addition to my students reading the blog, staff from my campus and area K-12 teachers are following the blog and are learning more about who I am and what I do. I strongly feel that by documenting my journeys, I am helping share the life of a science faculty member with a non-science audience.
Citation: Guertin, L. (2013). The Journeys of Dr. G: a blog designed for students to learn about the life of a faculty member in the Earth sciences. Abstract ED43D-0788, presented at 2013 Fall Meeting AGU, San Francisco, CA, 9-13 Dec.