Bioregion Assignment

Claus Svendsen, Department of Environmental Conservation, Skagit Valley College.
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Summary

This bioregional assignment is set up as a weekly homework assignment that is physically handed in to the instructor for grading. At the end of all the assignments students should get a sense of urgency that is upon us in managing our natural world going forward; the speed of change becomes real when students look at land use changes and changes in values that has happened in the past few decades. In addition, students share their papers in weekly group work sessions where they look for commonalities and trends in their answers. This activity was inspired by my participation in the Curriculum for the Bioregion meetings for the past six years.

Learning Goals

  1. Students are asked to pick a 'natural' site in their local area, watershed, or neighborhood that they favor. The goal is to have students analyze the many changes that has happened to it over a relatively short timeframe.
  2. This assignment provides students with a local or bioregional perspective on management of our natural resources not found in the textbook. This exercise will bring all the issues we face in managing our natural world home to the students. They will have to face the issues in their own back yard.
  3. At the end of all the assignments students should get a sense of urgency that is upon us in managing our natural world going forward; the speed of change becomes real when students look at changes that has happened in the past few decades.
  4. Students will get a sense of our continued perpetual lowering of the bar for natural areas.

Context for Use

The bioregion assignment is a complimentary assigment to a wildlife biology and management course. This assigment brings the issues to their neighborhood or watershed. Often, students do not connect that the problems and issues described in a general textbook are relevant to them.

Student audience: Environmental Conservation Program students and general non-science transfer students and some other Professional Technical students needing a 'gen. ed.' course.

Description and Teaching Materials

  • This activity is divided into 9 weekly assigments that take studdents trhough a number of exercises regarding a favorite piece of nature that they cherish.
  • The activity forces students to visit a number of websites relevant to natural resource management. They must research historical information as well as local native peoples use of the land and their values.
  • They must also produce a map to get students used to look ate spatial data.
  • The activity is available to students through our on-line support manager, Moodle.
  • The assignment can be used as a physical contribution to the instructor or it can be used as an electronic upload in Moodle.

Bioregion Assignment, Skagit Valley College (Microsoft Word 39kB Aug8 11)

Teaching Notes and Tips

  1. International students may want to select an area near their home city. This sometimes work, sometines not. It depends on how savy students are gathering information viw the internet in their homeland. However, there are often parallel trends to American students.
  2. Avoid having students select a remote location in a national park or wilderness area. It is very hard for students at this level to indentify loss of viewscapes, lake acidification due to air pollution, etc.

Assessment

The assessment tool is a rubric. I deliberately made it somewhat vague to fit the many different weekly assigments. However, it should give the student a sense of the expectations.

Rubric:

4.0 The weeks assignment issues fully addressed by the student. Information sources identified and documented. The student provides a coherent conclusion on the assignment.

3.0 The weeks assignment issues not fully addressed by the student (80-90%). Information sources identified and documented. The student provides a conclusion on the assignment that is mostly coherent.

2.0 The weeks assignment issues inadequately addressed by the student (<80%). Information sources identified and but not correctly documented. The student does not provide a coherent conclusion on the assignment.

1.0 The weeks assignment addressed by the student has missing pieces and/or is inadequately addressed. Information sources not identified and documented. The student provides an incoherent or disconnected conclusion on the assignment.

0.0 The weeks assignment missing most of the pieces, and assignment not fully addressed.

References and Resources

Evergreen State College