Interdisciplinary Environmental Science Reflection and CommunicationKathleen Phillips, Earth Systems, Stanford University
Interdisciplinary work requires much more in-class time that a standard course, and I have found that it is very important to student learning that I incorporate time in class for the students to reflect on what they are learning, talk to each other, and ask questions. When students are working on group projects, it has proven useful to schedule weekly meeting times outside of class with each group to help them wrestle with stakeholder analysis and refine the research questions they are asking. Students can be easily daunted when facing an interdisciplinary project and often need more guidance from the outset to define the scope and direction of their work.
One of my main goals for all of my classes is for students to improve their abilities to communicate their science to a variety of audiences including policy-makers, the public, and colleagues from other disciplines. I have benefited from working with excellent TAs and requiring all students to practice any presentations to be made to the class with the TA at least once before presenting anything to the class. This requires students to make a first cut at removing any jargon or confusing topics from their presentations. Further refinement comes from peer review of presentations in class, and I have found that students give excellent guidance and advice to each other. It helps to make peer review required, and to include acting as a peer-reviewer in the participation part of the class grade.
I'm looking forward to learning new techniques and activities from other conference participants that I can incorporate into my future classes.