Patrick Belmont: Using Water: Science and Society at Utah State University
About this course
Some supplemental lecture, Formative Assessments, and discussions were conducted during
A Success Story in Building Student EngagementThe Water, Science and Society online course materials were the primary materials for readings and assignments in my class. The class was relatively small (nine students) and discussion-oriented. Overall, students found the curriculum engaging and enlightening. Students really enjoyed the active learning components, especially the Darcy Tube experiments and the in-class debates about dams.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate Materials
In general, we found that having one 75-minute class session was not enough, and three 50-minute sessions provided enough time, but were too broken up for some of the in-class activities. So two 75-minute sessions seems like the right balance. One session each week can be used for mini-lectures and working through the formative assessments and providing feedback to the students. The other session can be used for in-class activities.
This course makes use of formative "checkpoints" with automated feedback built in to the online materials. In addition, each module contains several more substantial formative assessments, often in the form of essays. Most instructors will want to choose from among these formative assessments, or give their students the choice of which formative assessment to complete. All summative assessments are necessary in order for the students to get the maximum benefit from each module.
This course makes use of a number of different assessment elements:
- Formative Assessments with automated feedback
- "Activate Your Learning" elements have students interact with the online content, such as interpreting a graph or map.
- "Food for Thought" elements have students respond to more philosophical questions.
- "Learning Checkpoints" are short-answer or multiple-choice questions that review or apply the content as it is provided.
- Formative Assessments to be turned in
- The students complete these at home and bring to the lab/discussion session with them. Some formative assessments involve numerical calculations, some involve interpretation of graphs or figures, and many are short essays. They are generally used to prepare the students for the in-class labs, activities, or discussions.
- Summative Assessments
- These are generally completed during the in-class lab/discussion session, although some preparatory work may be required before coming to class. The goal is to synthesize and apply the topics covered in each module. Summative assessments are designed to encourage students to interact with real data, in some cases to create their own data sets, and to verbalize some of the larger societal problems posed by water accessibility issues. Examples include:
- Water Use Journal
- Hadley Cell Analysis
- Topographic Map Interpretation
- Hometown Flood Hazard Assessment
- Dams Debate
- Darcy Tube Experiments
- Hydraulic Head Analysis
- Water Contaminant Fact Sheet
- Water Portfolio for Phoenix, AZ
- Short Paper on Water Sharing Across Borders
- Capstone Project
- Students develop a comprehensive Water Portfolio to serve a water-critical urban area of their choosing.
I taught a course similar to this in the past. There are many topics to cover and no existing textbook covers them adequately, so I was hoping to bring all these topics into a single, coherent picture that links them together. Additionally, I was hoping to make what had been more of a lecture-based course into an active-learning, discussion-oriented course with only a modest amount of lecture content to emphasize the key points. In my own evaluation and the evaluations of the students, it succeeded in all of those areas.