John Thomas Warford: Using Food as the Foundation for Healthy Communities in Student Life Skills 1101: The First Year Experience at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
About this CourseSLS 1101 is an introductory course for freshman and some sophomores, regardless of declared major.
Student Life Skills Syllabus (Microsoft Word 310kB Nov10 16)
Human beings depend on the natural environment in order to survive and perpetuate. Human beings also modify the natural environment for the same reasons. This module is a foundational focus on these two features that help define the nature of human / environment interactions. The introduction of primary Earth systems to learners is critical to gaining an appreciation of our dependency and modification of the natural environment. This module is designed and tested to potentially serve as a base module for other modules and courses offered on the InTeGrate platform.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrateMaterialsMy primary modification was to respond to the need to carry over some subject discussions and reinforce activities preparation and instructions related to module activities. Our module was tested on first semester freshmen during the heart of a heatwave summer, so providing motivation, incentives, and being patient was critical. I believe more seasoned students will respond even better than my group, who did well — all things considered.
Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course
My course was six weeks long, and I dedicated the second half of the second week to the first half of the fifth week to the module. The academic engagement portion of our class was this InTegrate module. I had the means to concentrate the other Student Life Skills (SLS) course modules in a way that worked well. Many of the SLS activities are designed as out of classroom activities and the involvement of guest speakers who are topic experts on campus, so there was not a big conflict with regard to lecture time scheduling. Our students are given homework as a rule. I relied heavily on my four years of SLS experience and the able assistance of our peer mentors.
I used each unit exactly as there described on the unit pages. The genesis of the instructor's guide sheets each unit began with the teaching of each unit. Before module introduction and initial implementation, I decided to provide the students with physical copies of all of the activities materials and module slides — on both individual and group level. With young people, new students this new to the college experience, I did not want to encounter some of the no-access/non-access issues — technical or otherwise — that could impede our process. This was a 6-week course, not a 10-week one. I know from testing that this module can be successfully implemented without using Blackboard. This is important because it cannot be assumed that Blackboard is available in every teaching / learning environment. Providing handouts was more labor-intensive, but it allowed me more control of certain outcomes in many situations.
AssessmentsOne formative and three summative assessments were given. Each unit had a summative assessment. The formative assessment was given in Unit 1 in the way of a concise writing, (a five-minute paper). The Unit 1 assessment was a concise writing also, the Unit 2 assessment was a concept mapping exercise, and the Unit 3 assessment was a written analysis of a scenario. In the beginning, both Unit 2 and 3 assessments were looked at with weary eyes. I think this was mainly due to the end of summer semester fatigue, summer heat, and a fear being overwhelmed. Remember, I tested this module with first semester, incoming freshmen. The peer mentors and I were able to overcome their hesitancy with deliberate patience, instructor guidance, and continuing to allow them to do the work in groups. Our students did become more comfortable with the challenge. Also, water and snacks were a big help.
I hope to introduce to some and reinforce in the others the importance of recognizing and making the best decisions (and choices) regarding the elements and relationships that sustain them as human beings. I wanted them to grasp the profundity of food and community as realities that will and must sustain them. Life, happiness, and success cannot exist without real food and true connection on the level of community. I believe I have opened some eyes, based on the comments I have received since the course's end and some of their responses on the pre vs. post "Views About Food" surveys.