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Issue Brief

Tait Chirenje
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: May 25, 2008


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Undergraduate introductory general education course (see course profile) for non-majors

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must have completed the first part of the course that discusses the impact of humans on the environment and the various environmental philosophies

How the activity is situated in the course

This brief is done after the fourth week of class. I used it once in Fall 07, but I often use it twice or thrice in courses taken by majors


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The first part of this exercise is focused on the student's ability to remember and understand factual and conceptual knowledge on environmental quality and how it affects the quality of life.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The second part requires students to apply and analyze conceptual, procedural and conditional knowledge to complex situations governed by competing interests. I started using this exercise after attending the "Teaching policy in geosciences workshop" two years ago.

Other skills goals for this activity

The important skill I look for in this type of assignment is the ability to describe a problem from one point of view, analyze the impact on the greater society, and then appreciate that there are a lot of competing interests that have to be taken into account in order to come up with a solution. This explains why some apparent solutions do not seem to make sense to the outside observer.

Description of the activity/assignment

This assignment is meant to make students stop and think about an environmental issue that gets to them and do some research on what type of solutions would be appropriate. It also challenges them to go out and research the effectiveness of the solutions to that problem and propose other options. An important part of the assignment is to make students realize that sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to do "nothing." Some solutions, especially those arrived at from consensus, may worsen the problem.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The second pdf file posted below discusses the evaluation criteria for this assignment.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs