Steve Burian: Using Water Sustainability in Cities at the University of Utah
About this course
The Human Dimensions of Water in the West is an interdisciplinary course with freshman and sophomore students. The module replaced the topics usually covered in weeks 6–9 in a course taught by Professor Ed Barbanell.
Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 505kB Sep27 15)
A Success Story in Building Student Engagement
The Water Sustainability in Cities Module provided the content for one module of an interdisciplinary course on water and sustainability. The fit of the module is perfect for the course and its needs. In particular, the focus on planning and design of buildings and neighborhoods complemented the other topics in the course. The team project provided an effective integrating activity for students to continuously come back to after each instructional unit.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate MaterialsThe module was designed for upper-level undergraduate students. The course the module was incorporated into for my pilot testing was a freshman or sophomore course. To adjust, there was a need to reduce the expectations for in-class and out-of-class activities. Another modification was with active learning exercises. The small class meant a need to consider how to arrange teams and how to re-organize them throughout the module. The report out periods were also shorter because of the smaller number of responses.
Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to My CourseThe course topic was water and sustainability. The module was inserted at weeks 6 through 9 of the semester. This timing meant that the introductory concepts of sustainability and water had already been covered. Therefore, the module had a solid foundation. It also meant some of the activities for Unit 1 had to be modified because definitions had already been covered. The students continued to refer to the case studies.
I like using classroom assessment techniques so I used the minute paper in three of the units. I also like having students submit deliverables for pre-class and in-class activities. The module contains both of these assessments; I just built them into other places as well. The summative assessment project is a great way to let students apply their knowledge and learn new skills. I introduced it early in the module (Unit 1) and kept bringing students back to the work. The students were able to make modest progress, but they definitely had considered the project before Unit 9. I will find a way to modify the deliverables of the team project to make them align better with the other units — having something from every or most of the units be a required element.