The Tragedy of the Commons Homework

Andy Johnson
BHSU Center for the Advancement of Math and Science Education
This is actually a homework assignment that we talk about in class. But when we talk about it I discover how my students are thinking. So it also serves as a formative assessment that I use to find out whether students are clear about the characteristics of a commons.

What learning is this evaluation activity designed to assess?

Whether students recognize the characteristics of a commons.

What is the nature of the teaching/learning situation for which your evaluation has been designed?

I teach a physics course for non-science majors in a conservative and very rural state, and these students don't know much about resource or population issues. (They do know a lot about farming and ranching, though.) Once in class when I mentioned the tragedy of the commons, the entire class gave me a blank look. Nobody would admit to having heard about it before. So I created this assignment to let students read the story and be prepared to discuss it in class.

What advice would you give others using this evaluation?

Are there particular things about this evaluation that you would like to discuss with the workshop participants? Particular aspects on which you would like feedback?

Please suggest improvements to the text and to the questions.

I thought the tragedy of the commons was common knowledge. What does anyone else know about this?

Evaluation Materials