William Hansen: Environmental Science at Worcester State University


About this Course

Introductory course for majors and non-majors.

30
students

2 75-minute lectures

Environmental Science Syllabus (Microsoft Word 386kB Jun2 17)

Environmental Science is a class that draws in concepts from across the science disciplines as well as technological and societal factors. As such it can be complex for students to navigate with respect to terminology, sources of information and synthesis of concepts.
Environmental Science classes typically have a small number of very vocal students but a large number of students with a lack of familiarity with these concepts and therefore many tend not to participate in class discussions. Integrate materials work well in bringing all students into the discussion through student-to-student interaction and tie fundamental geoscience concepts back to human actions in a way that facilitates student's exploration and interaction.

Environmental science deals with human interactions with the natural world so it is something that students have a fundamental relationship with. The interactions between students driven by the modules enabled them to more fully discuss their surroundings, examine their actions and the actions of others.

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate Materials

I used a number of modules as written, some with slight modifications and I created some activities that work better in the New England Region using the format of the existing activities. For consistency sake I modified the activities to run for about 1 hour. Sometimes this was most of the class and other times the students began an activity at the end of class and were instructed to collaborate and then summarize at the beginning of the next class

Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course

I used InTeGrate material for about 35% of the course. Water module was used in the beginning of the semester then led into climate. I implemented the soils module after ecosystems and prior to a minerals section.

Assessments

The assessments were open response questions in which students linked the concepts presented in class and in activities. I used two of the summative assessment questions from two of the modules. Most students were able to give an effective answer and tie together some of the core concepts from class. I also developed an activity based around renewable energy and used a question on the future scenario of renewable energy specifically for Massachusetts, given their familiarity with wind and solar this worked well.

Outcomes

With the materials I hoped to get students more involved in the classroom and improve the atmosphere especially in terms of student contribution. I think it was effective although as a commuter school with many students working it is hard to judge what are the factors that cause students to miss class and their lack of preparation at times.

Classroom Context