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Restructuring natural resource majors
Date:2/10/2011

Madison, WI FEBRUARY 3, 2011 A troublesome trend is occurring at colleges and universities around the country: fewer students are graduating with degrees in natural resource related degree programs. As a result, the number of qualified professionals to manage fish and wildlife programs is dwindling. What is even more troubling is that nationally, the percentage of students enrolling in the major has increased. For reasons unknown, students have been leaving the natural resource degree path after enrollment to pursue other degrees. Finding cause for the steady decline in student interest was the focus of a Michigan State University study, published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education.

After interviewing students that had been enrolled in a fish and wildlife degree program, but had left to pursue another major at Michigan State, researchers identified seven categories for student departure. All the interviews were conducted in the same manner, using the same questions.

Engagement and employment were two themes identified by researchers. Previous research indicates students dislike lecture-based learning classes and prefer a more active learning environment. However, fish and wildlife students felt they had little to no access hands on experiences or field work. At the same time, many of the students believed that finding a job after graduation would be difficult, unless they received a masters or Ph.D.

Academic rigor and awareness of the major were also included in the seven categories. Students who left admitted they were not expecting face paced, advanced math and science pre-requisite courses, nor did they understand the relevancy of such courses. Even students that were academically competitive in high school found these courses to be a challenging task. Many students had not even heard of the major until visiting campus or while enrolling in classes. Others simply equate
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Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@sciencesocieties.org
608-268-4948
American Society of Agronomy
Source:Eurekalert

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