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: Microbiology professor discusses lab's efforts to fight antibiotic-resistant infections

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

Study on prehistoric violence published

February 20, 2017

A longtime Cal Poly Pomona anthropology professor who studies violence among prehistoric people in California has been published in a prestigious journal.

'Tully monster' mystery is far from solved, group argues

February 20, 2017

Last year, headlines in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American and other outlets declared that a decades-old paleontological mystery had been solved. The "Tully monster," an ancient animal that had long defied ...

Mathematical models predict how we wait in line, traffic

February 17, 2017

As New Jersey drivers approach the George Washington Bridge to enter New York City, a digital sign flashes overhead with estimates of the delays on the upper and lower levels of the bridge. Most drivers choose the level with ...

Remembering the need to forget

February 17, 2017

We are built to forget – it is a psychological necessity. But in a social media world that captures – and, more importantly, remembers – everything we say and do, forgetting is becoming a thing of the past. If we lose ...

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.