Where have all the students gone?

November 3, 2008

Why are the number of students studying soil science as a major declining across the United States? Mary Collins, University of Florida, Gainesville, writes about this in an article published in the 2008 Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education.

Collins notes that the faculties who work closely with undergraduate students have seen this steady decline for several years. And there are many reasons one can give for why this is happening.

"This decline affects not only the students but also the courses offered, quality of graduate students, and the possible merger of departments," says Collins.

The National Academy of Sciences through the National Committee for Soil Science established a subcommittee to study the declining trend of low enrollments in the major. The outcome of the subcommittee work and international commentaries on this subject are reported in this article. The international soil science education community is also facing a similar tendency.

Today many of our graduate students come to soil science with various undergraduate backgrounds including non-science disciplines.

Collins explains, "These graduates may be outstanding, but they do not have the fundamental educational background in soils common at the undergraduate level."

How can we increase the enrollment in our courses and major? Possible solutions include recruiting the "undecided" students already on-campus; having the best lecturer in the department teach the normally high enrolled introductory soils course; discussing with your colleagues if the courses offered have been static; changing the names of the courses; offering courses through distance education; establishing a combined B.S/M.S. degree program; and advertising how a student can major in soil science and still prepare for a professional school.

Source: Soil Science Society of America

Explore further: Scientists warn of seasonal increase of deadly rabbit disease

Related Stories

Help students think like soil scientists

September 28, 2009

Emphasizing cross-disciplinary concepts in teaching soil science courses, such as mass-volume relationships, can help undergraduates learn real-world, problem-solving skills that are crucial to their success in soil science ...

Recommended for you

Authenticity key to landing a new job

June 22, 2017

At job interviews, relax and be yourself - if you're good, being yourself may be the best way to secure a job offer, according to a new study involving UCL researchers.

UN says world population will reach 9.8 billion in 2050

June 22, 2017

India's population is expected to surpass China's in about seven years and Nigeria is projected to overtake the United States and become the third most populous country in the world shortly before 2050, a U.N. report said ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

COCO
not rated yet Nov 10, 2008
dirt has lost its glitter

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.