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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Learning Assessments

This course is organized around specific goals that are informed by the overarching principles of the InTeGrate project. It is important to determine the effectiveness of the course in helping students to achieve the stated goals. Assessment-driven instruction means that a course will be focused on ensuring that students acquire certain essential information and that they can apply that information in meaningful ways. However, such assessment-driven instruction easily lends itself to academic abuse where the lowest levels of cognition dominate the instructional approach. This is because it is easier to test whether a student has acquired a body of facts than if the student can apply the information in a creative way to evaluate a situation or solve a problem. Many college professors comment that the current crop of students are good at memorizing facts but have difficulty using them in a meaningful way. This is often attributed to the era of "No Child Left Behind" that drove public school to stress preparation for high-stakes testing at the expense of promoting deeper learning. As such, our suggested assessment tools will incorporate a more balanced approach that values higher levels of cognition. After completing a college course, memorized facts will fade, but hopefully the larger concepts and their application will remain with the student. And in our information age the student should know how to quickly gain access to facts from the collective social cerebral cortex residing in the Internet.

Because much of the assessment in this course will be subjective, we also provide a pre/post test to aid in determining advances in lower-level cognition over course. However, we focus most of the assessment effort on learner-centered activities. Note that our approach is to use a "flipped" class, where class time is devoted to student-centered activities, and basic information acquisition is expected to be done by readings prior to class. Also note that these activities are designed for a class that meets once a week for 2-3 hours. As such, modification will be required for classes of different time allotments.

Student assessment will be built around different types of student activities: student-generated quizzes and discussion, student presentations, module reports based upon laboratory and other work. In addition, the aforementioned pre/post test will provide objective assessment and lastly a capstone assessment.

Assessment Types

1.Student-generated quiz and discussion questions. The students will be required to do the module readings prior to attending class and develop six written questions based on the readings. The first two questions are based upon the topic covered in the preceding class meeting. These will be used for the daily quiz. The professor calls on five different students to state their questions. All students write answers. Then the professor calls on five other students to state their responses. The class discusses each answer as needed, and students score their quizzes based upon the right answer as indicted by the professor. The quiz should take 10–15 min.

After the quiz the class will turn to the next four student-generated questions. These are based upon the current readings for the day. Professor-controlled discussion will be used, with the professor calling on one student for a question and another for an answer. Any particular question may involve multiple inputs from different students as the discussion unfolds. The discussion should take around 20 min.

The students earn points for bringing the quiz and discussion questions, as well as for their performance on the quiz. Emphasis is placed on developing thoughtful questions that go beyond simple definitions or facts, to address higher levels of cognition. The size of the class will determine how often a student is called upon to for a quiz or discussion question.

Rubric for evaluation of student-generated quiz and discussion questions

Quiz and Discussion Rubric
Quiz and Discussion Rubric Table
Yes/Correct
Did the student write all six questions and did they address the module content?3
Did the questions include at least three higher level cognition questions?2
How many correct answers were recorded (1-5 pts) from the five quiz questions?0 - 5

Rubric for assessing the quizzes and discussions.
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(last updated 2016-01-31 13:50:54)

2. Student presentations. The professor will generate a list of topics to be addressed during student presentations, and these will appear in the course syllabus. On the first day of class the students will sign up for their chosen presentation topics. The number of topics and the length of presentations will be governed by the size of the class. There should be a minimum of one student presentation per class, and every student should present at least once. The topics will cover an appropriate subject for that day's material. They may drill deeper into an issue from the readings, or be based upon contemporary events that link to that day's work. Students may be scored using the following rubric:

Rubric for student presentations [1]

Presentation Rubric Table
Presentation Rubric
CATEGORY4 = exemplary3 = accomplished2 = developing1 = beginning
OrganizationStrong and engaging introduction that provides the essence of the proposal; ending reinforces main points of proposalIntroduction provides overview of proposal; ending with an appropriate conclusion.Some overview is given; but the ending is limited.Introduction does not give an overview; organization is unclear, ends without conclusion.
Main IdeasMain ideas are presented with depth and effectively supported with facts, vivid details, and engaging examples. All key elements are included.Main ideas are supported with appropriate facts, examples, and details. One or two key elements may be missing.Some main ideas are supported with facts, examples, or details. More than two key elements are missing.Main ideas are unclear; facts, examples, and details are lacking or fail to support ideas; proposal lacks several key elements or contains inaccuracies.
Speaking and VoicePoised, clear articulation/pronunciation; proper volume, speaking rate, and pauses. Presenter shows enthusiasm through emphasis.Clear articulation/pronunciation but not as polished; volume, rate, and pauses mostly appropriate. Presenter's show of enthusiasm through emphasis is adequate.Some mumbling; uneven rate and volume; little enthusiasm and emphasisVolume too high/low; rate too fast/slow; speaker seemed uninterested and used monotone; articulation/pronunciation often not clear
Verbal Expression (grammar, vocabulary, summarizing/ paraphrasing)Presenter effectively explains content-specific terms and concepts. Presenter always speaks in complete sentences that are easy to understand and follow.Presenter uses content-specific terms and concepts, speaks mostly in complete sentences and is easy to understand and follow.Presenter uses mostly general terms and has difficulty speaking in complete sentences OR has difficulty pronouncing key words or phrases.Presenter does not use content-specific terms and rarely speaks in complete sentences OR uses sentences that are difficult to understand and follow.

Rubric for presentations
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(last updated 2016-01-31 11:54:35)


3. Module Reports. The remainder of each class will be devoted to a hands-on laboratory exercise designed to integrate with that day's topic. The students will perform experiments and collect data in class. They may also be called upon to analyze online data sets from other sources. These analyses along with answers to questions around application and understanding will be addressed in the module report. The students will be assessed using a rubric that incorporates the course and InTeGrate goals. Each module requires a report.

Rubric for assessment of module reports [1]

Module Rubric Table
Module Rubric
CATEGORY4 = exemplary3 = accomplished2 = developing1 = beginning
IntroductionStrong and engaging introduction that provides the purpose, background information and why it is important; it reinforces the objectives of the module.Introduction provides the purpose of the module and the background information.Some of the purpose and background information is given; but is limited.Introduction does not give the purpose or the background information or it is unclear and confusing
ResultsResults are clearly presented, organized and synthesized to reveal insightful patterns, differences, or similarities related to the module.Organizes results to reveal important patterns, differences, or similarities related to the module.Organizes the results, but the organization is not effective in revealing important patterns, differences, or similarities.Lists the results, they are not clear and they are not organized and/or are unrelated to the modules' objectives.
Discussion QuestionsAnswers to the questions are such that they are a logical extrapolation from the inquiry findings.Answers to the questions are focused solely on the inquiry findings.Answers are general conclusion and move beyond the scope of the inquiry but not in a meaningful way.Answers are ambiguous, illogical, or not supported by the evidence from inquiry findings.
Overall writingWriter effectively explains content-specific terms and concepts. Uses complete sentences that are easy to understand and follow.Writer uses content-specific terms and concepts, writes mostly in complete sentences that are easy to understand and follow.Writer uses mostly general terms and has difficulty writing in complete sentences OR has difficulty using key words or phrases.Writer does not use content-specific terms and rarely uses complete sentences OR uses sentences that are difficult to understand and follow.

Rubric for assessing laboratory modules.
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(last updated 2016-01-31 13:38:38)


4. Pre/Post testing. An objective test will be administered during the first and last week of the course to quantify mastery of basic information related to the course and InTeGrate goals. The students will receive up to two extra credit points (course grade is based upon 100 total points) for completing the pretest. The will earn up to 5 points of regular credit for completing the post-test. The percentage of correct answers on the pre/post test will be used to determine the number of points awarded each time (product of decimal fraction of correct answers times the 2 or 6 points available in each case).

Pre & post test


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5. Capstone Summary Assessment

For those teaching the modules as an entire course, we provide a capstone summary assessment activity. This activity is designed to incorporate scaffolding of the material, to use the gained knowledge to do systems thinking, and to facilitate reflection on what the students learned. The assignment follows:

Congratulations on having completed all eleven modules! Now is the time to put together that body of knowledge and experience to produce a useful product. You have just been hired by the town/city nearest to campus as a community planner. Your job is to design a sustainable community that will be built on a large section of the city that was leveled in a massive urban renewal project. This new planned community will have housing, places to eat and shop, light industry, a school, recreation center, and park. This will be a complete neighborhood. Know that all of the infrastructure will also be replaced; this means utilities (electricity, water, sewage) and roads.

Part I — Planning a Sustainable Community

Your job is to develop a plan (this could be a written document, a PowerPoint presentation, a video, or some other medium. Be creative!) for this sustainable community addressing the technologies you learned about in each of the modules 2–11. For each technology you must:

1. State the technology.

2. Determine if the technology is appropriate to use in your town/city. Be sure to provide evidence to explain your conclusion and reference data (like maps of solar and wind resources) to support your position.

3. Explain how the chosen technologies will be used to achieve a sustainable community.

4. Describe the socioeconomic (e.g., costs/benefits, health effects) implications of the technology.

5. Show how each technology will be linked to at least two of the other technologies.

6. When you show the linkages (in question 5) do so in a systems-thinking way. This should include pointing out positive and negative feedback loops, and how changes to one part of the community mediated by a technology will drive changes to other parts of the community.

Part II — Reflection

1. After completing the above, write a paragraph reflecting on how you think this course has affected your views on a) your energy use; and b) community sustainability.


GREENS Capstone Summary Assessment Rubric[1]

Introduction

For those teaching the modules as an entire course, we have developed a capstone summary assessment. This activity is designed to incorporate scaffolding of the material, to use the gained knowledge to do systems thinking, and to facilitate reflection on what the students learned. The capstone activity could be a written plan, an oral or a PowerPoint presentation, a video, or the activity could use some other medium. This rubric is designed to assess the content of the capstone activity.

Terminology

The following will clarify some of the terms used in this rubric and instructor expectations:

Appropriate evidence: We expect students to provide appropriate or correct evidence that supports their responses in this assignment. In question two, for example, students should provide facts and/or citations that would support their decision to incorporate (or not) solar PV panels into their sustainable community plan.

Appropriate links between technologies: In question five we expect the student to provide appropriate or correct links between different technologies. The student should examine how the different technologies might complement or conflict with one another. For example, the student could consider how space used for ground-source heat exchange might be occupied on the surface by another alternate energy strategy (e.g. PV panels). Alternately, the use of Trombe walls to decrease heating costs might increase costs for interior lighting. The objective is for students to present an integrated plan that incorporates multiple technologies.

Systems thinking: We expect the students to demonstrate an understanding of a system (natural or human-made), its parts, and how those parts interact through different feedback loops (positive and/or negative).


GREENS Capstone Summary Assessment Rubric

Captsone Rubric Table
CATEGORY4 = exemplary3 = accomplished2 = developing1 = beginning
Part I - Planning a Sustainable Community
1. Was at least one technology from each module addressed?More than 7 technologies addressed5 to 6 technologies addressed3 to 4 technologies addressed0 to 2 technologies addressed
2. Was appropriate evidence used to support or discard each technology?The evidence provided is presented with depth and effectively supported with facts and detailed/engaging examples.The evidence provided is supported with appropriate facts and examples.The evidence provided is not supported by the facts or examples given.The evidence provided is unclear; facts, examples, and details are lacking or fail to support decisions.
3. Did the student show how the technologies will be used to achieve a sustainable community?The answer is in-depth and effectively supported with facts and detailed/engaging examples.The answer is supported by correct facts and examples.The answer is not supported by the facts or examples given.Provides little evidence of how the technology helps sustain the community.
4. Did the student describe the socio-economic implications of their chosen technologies?The answer is in-depth and effectively supported with facts and detailed/engaging examples.The answer is supported by correct facts and examples.The answer is not supported by the facts or examples given.Provides little evidence of the socio-economic implications of the technology.
5. Were there appropriate links drawn between the technologies, with each technology being linked to at least two other technologies?Links developed between one technology and three or more other technologies demonstrating integration.Links developed between one technology and two other technologies demonstrating integration.Links developed between one technology and another technology are appropriate but lack integration.The links between one technology and another technology are inaccurate and lack integration.
6. Did the student display systems-thinking when addressing how these technologies would work together in the sustainable community?Feedbacks (both positive and negative) are identified and described using engaging examples.A feedback (positive or negative) was identified and described using appropriate examples.A feedback (positive or negative) was identified.Demonstrated systems-thinking in a basic way but not the system feedbacks and lacks examples.
Part II - Reflection
1. Did the reflection paragraph demonstrate that the student gave serious thought to the question and did it reveal any insights?Reflects upon prior learning (inside and outside of the classroom) in depth to reveal significantly changed perspectives on how the course affected their views.Reflects upon prior learning (inside and outside of the classroom) in depth, revealing fully clarified meanings or demonstrating broader perspectives on how the course affected their views.Reflects upon prior learning (inside and outside of the classroom) with some depth, revealing slightly clarified meanings or demonstrating a somewhat broader perspective on how the course affected their views.Reflects upon prior learning (inside and outside of the classroom) at a surface level, without revealing clarified meaning or demonstrating a broader perspective on how the course affected their views.

Table for the capstone rubric
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(last updated 2016-01-31 11:22:41)



[1] Based upon material from the VALUE Rubric Development Project (Association of American Colleges & Universities) - http://aacu.org/value/rubrics

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »