Adriana Perez: Using Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources in Physical Geology at El Paso Community College
About this Course
An introductory course for majors.
Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 305kB Jul2 14)
A Success Story in Building Student Engagement
My course is an introductory geology course taken by students wishing to fulfill a science credit. Most of the students have a very weak science background. Hybrid classes are especially challenging since students will usually not work on background materials until after the lab session meets. We have to spend a significant amount of our lab session reviewing materials that were posted for that week.
Using the modules in the class allowed students to think about concepts rather than memorize terminology, figures or samples. It gave them (and me) the opportunity to explore these ideas and tap into their previous knowledge of science by taking a more practical approach to the information and data. Students were very engaged and enthusiastic about learning and contributed to the discussion and activities. They realized that they knew more than they thought and that they can grasp the concepts without memorizing information and actually understand the processes being discussed.
These types of activities were very well received by students. They were enthusiastic and eager to take part in the discussion. More importantly, they were able to make the connection between geology, the environment and environmental justice.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate Materials
Most of the module material was used as shown in order to test how well it would work at our institution with our student population. Most of the modification came when interactive technology was needed. In some classrooms the Internet and Google Earth were not available, so materials were posted as images. Overall the modules worked very well. Students were engaged and enthusiastic about the material presented. They were able to make crucial connections with the material presented and local examples and environmental issues. Students were very open to the experience and embraced the different learning approach to the subject and data.
Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course
The semester is a 16-week class session. The class where I piloted the material is a hybrid class that meets once a week for a 90-minute lab and is presented with most class materials online. The class size is small (12 students). I covered the material toward the end of the semester (as I usually do) after students have learned about rocks, minerals, local geology, and major geologic structures and processes. Although the hydrologic cycle was not covered previously, the idea of environment and environmental justice and our impact and interaction with the planet is a major focus of my instruction throughout the semester.
The module was used in addition to class materials that followed a more traditional approach to teaching: notes, PowerPoint and lab activities. I used it in a hybrid environment so we had some flexibility with time and I was able to assign some of the materials (both traditional and module) online.
Most of the assessments that I used in class were meant to start discussions, first within the groups and then as a class and hopefully after the class as members of a larger community.
My overall goal in my class and throughout these modules has always been for students to see "the bigger picture." I hope that they are able to understand the interactions of humans and their environment (positive and negative) and to realize that we have a direct impact on our planet. I want them to realize that we depend on this planet for our survival and that we can also be the cause of so many of the challenges that our environment is facing. These issues can be different from community to community as can be the approach that we all take in resolving them.