Marine Environmental Geology
Context for Use
Size: 36 students (two lab sections of 18 each)
Level: Mixed science, non-science, Environmental Studies (ES) students. Mostly first and second year students.
Requirements: Meets inquiry in natural sciences requirement (for about half the students this is one of two science courses they take at Bowdoin). The course can be counted toward the geology major as one of two intro courses and counts for science requirement in the ES major.
Misc: Typically between 60-75% women
The website includes service-learning project information:
and the course syllabus: http://academic.bowdoin.edu/courses/f04/geo103/pdf/syll_103_f04.pdf.
Teaching Notes and Tips
Community Building - Almost half the grade in this course is based on evaluation of the service-learning project. There are usually 12 projects, with groups of three students working on each. Group dynamics is very important. We devote significant class and lab time early in the course to "community building", helping the students form a trusting community where they feel intellectually safe and able to work in an true inquiry mode. Barriers have to be broken down between students and the faculty/laboratory instructor and between individual students, forging new roles for everyone. We monitor the strength of the community throughout the semester and take additional steps if we feel the community of the class or within individual groups weakening.
Capacity Building - The semester is carefully planned to make sure that we build the capacity of students to successfully carry out their projects. Part of this is done through traditional classroom work ("sage on the stage"), some through early labs/field experiences which expose students to the techniques they are likely to use in the field, part through web resources that hit predictable needs, and finally through "just in time" lectures and demonstrations that deliver content and techniques right when they are needed. Looked at another way, capacity building is teaching.
Community Partners - We work with our community partners in the summer, planning projects for the fall. In addition to writing a "problem statement" for us on their letterhead, they visit class early in the semester to explain their projects. They also visit once while the students are doing field work, once when they are working on their data, and for a semester ending presentation. They also edit a draft of each group's report. At the end of the semester we have an informal meeting in a brew pub to discuss what went well and what needs attention. The college provides recognition to our partners in a ceremony at the end of the year.
References and Resources
Course Project Resources: http://academic.bowdoin.edu/courses/f04/geo103/project_resources.shtml
Sample Student Paper 1 ( 1.5MB Aug25 05)
Sample Student Paper 2 ( 429kB Aug25 05)
Sample Student Poster ( 338kB Aug25 05)