Students are given a choice of sources from which to choose an article relevant to the course (Sustainability Science) for review, including connection to other course content.
Students should be able to choose article content that coincides with their own interests in sustainability and adds to their knowledge base. The intent is to create a situation where students are to think about the content of the paper they read and to integrate this with content from class reading assignments, lectures, and other materials. The assignment encourages critical, as well as integrative, thinking and clear/appropriate written scholarly communication.
Context for Use
The assignment has been used in a class of 25 mid- to upper-level undergraduate students from a wide variety of majors. It can be appropriate for smaller and larger classes, and for any situation where increased exposure to the literature and encouragement of integrative thinking is desirable. Reading sources can be changed based on specific course orientation.
Description and Teaching Materials
A general writing assignment and a grading guide (rubric) shared with students are available here.
Writing assignment (article review) (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 15kB Jun14 12)
Grading rubric (Microsoft Word 10kB Jun14 12)
Teaching Notes and Tips
I modified the assignment to include the need for introductory and concluding or summary material in the paper based on the lack of these components in some submissions.
The first assignment presented three potential sources of articles; subsequent assignments in the last course offering changed these. (Students often will just go to whatever has the shortest articles possible when they have total freedom.)
Students occasionally neglect to read all parts of the assignment–they may not pay attention to which parts of Yale 360 are acceptable.
Please see the rubric.
References and Resources
The writing assignment described here is based on student choices of articles among three possible sources. These include
Yale Environment 360
may be particularly useful as a reading source because it has open access.
, much of its access is freely accessible and articles tend to be highly readable.
The Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS)
. Some articles are open access; for others, an institutional or individual subscription may be needed. For some students, articles in this source may be too difficult.