This page authored by Susan Rice, Beloit College, based on an original activity created by Emily Eagle, Beloit College alumna.
Author Profile


This is an exercise in directed observation of a new environment, focused on using all senses while listening to an audio tour that incorporates new and tangential information and opinion, and reflection on observation skills and impressions of the environment. The activity was targeted to encourage the students to consider their new environment beyond the confines of the campus during the early days of their semester.

Learning Goals

Observation skills, reflective writing.

Context for Use

FYI seminar, 16 students. Students completed the exercise outside of class time; the assignment was completed following the second week of the semester.

Description and Teaching Materials

This exercise was preceded by in-class exercises to practice skills in objective Description – Interpretation – Evaluation.

The class members were assigned to take individual excursions sometime during the weekend following the second week of the semester. The students were directed to download an audio tour of the neighborhood surrounding campus, "Out of Place," prepared during an honors term following her graduation by Emily Eagle, a former Beloit College student. The audio tour directed the listener to notice certain elements of the environment, while incorporating interviews with local Beloiters. In addition to the audio tour files, the students were given a hard copy of a map that had been hand-drawn by Emily in order to aid them in navigating the surrounding neighborhoods.

The students were given the following directions:

After you've walked the audio tour, post a 2-part response:
  1. your reactions to the content of the tour, and
  2. your reactions to how you observed/interacted with your environment while listening to the tour.
After you've posted your response, read and respond to at least 3 posts by other members of class.

Teaching Notes and Tips

The fact that the audio tour had been created by a former student who comments during the recording that she waited until later in her time at Beloit to engage with the community was particularly compelling for the students, and much more effective than if the tour had been created by a member of the faculty.


Use of the Moodle forum for reflection on the excursions, as well as commenting on one another's observations was critical to the students' ability to contextualize the experience.

References and Resources