Using InTeGrate Materials in Large Introductory Environmental Science Courses
Wednesday 1:30pm Northrop Hall: 116
Oral Session Part of Wednesday A: Innovative Course Activities
Diane Doser, University of Texas at El Paso
Every fall semester from 2012-2016 I taught a large section (120-130 students) of "Introduction to Environmental Science". Over 90% of students in the course were non-science majors, over 80% were Hispanic and over 60% were freshman. During 2012 and 2013 the course was taught in a lecture format, although some active learning strategies (e.g., think-pair-share, voting cards) were incorporated. The first InTeGrate materials from the "Climate of Change" module were introduced into the course in 2013. The overwhelmingly positive response of the students to the hands on, research based InTeGrate activities during 2013, led to the conversion of my class format. In 2014 I switched to meeting twice a week for 80 minutes with 10-15 minutes of lecture and the remainder of the class time devoted to group activities. Weekly reading reflections due before class insured that most students had read the introductory materials. As more InTeGrate materials became available these were introduced into the course, until in fall 2016 about 40% of the course used InTeGrate materials. Each year I observed a steady increase in overall course grades, although the rigor of assignments and exams did not change. In addition, course evaluations and other feedback indicated the students found InTeGrate materials engaging, enjoyable and relevant to environmental issues in the community. The group activity format required careful planning early in the course and assistance from 1 or 2 graduate teaching assistants to insure all groups were able to stay on track and have their questions answered promptly. As students became accustomed to the format and more confident in their reasoning skills, they needed less direct supervision.