Student-designed Authentic Research Projects in a Non-major Environmental Geology Course
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection
Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are
- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Aug 8, 2014
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
All projects were required to:
a) Be locally based, meaning students should be able to visit their study location(s) as and when necessary
b) Generate new knowledge beyond reading, reviewing and analyzing existing literature on the research topic
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Benefits and challenges of recycling
Importance of water and/or energy conservation
Benefits and challenges of renewable energy initiatives
Importance of taking personal action
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Plot data on appropriate graphs, and interpret trends (if present) from graphs
Formulate appropriate personal action plans to address the specific environmental research question they picked at the beginning of the semester
Other skills goals for this activity
Write a research proposal with a partner following guidelines provided by me (see attachment 2 for proposal guidelines)
Review proposals of other students and provide constructive feedback
Prepare and present posters
Review posters of other students
Write a self-assessment report
Description and Teaching Materials
Project components throughout the semester (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 16kB Aug8 14)
Communicating with project partner (Microsoft Word 33kB Aug8 14)
Guidelines for writing project abstract and proposal (Microsoft Word 41kB Aug8 14)
Peer review checklist for proposal and poster review (Microsoft Word 39kB Aug8 14)
Grading scheme for poster presentation and self assessment (Microsoft Word 32kB Aug8 14)
Teaching Notes and Tips
Also, I had to constantly remind students about due dates for each project component... even though it was clearly listed on the syllabus, they needed to be told that they had to work on it at least a week before the due date. Since two-or three students worked on the same project, that helped them to coordinate meeting times outside of class.
I allotted class time for working on poster making. It was helpful that our department had a computer lab and willing upper level students for assisting with making and printing posters.
Finally, this project was highly popular with students, and pretty much everyone claimed to have learned a lot. However, it was a HUGE time and energy commitment for me having to keep track of every aspect of the project for every student. Instructors with a 4X4 load, or those having more than 2 course preps per semester may want to avoid using this model.