Jennifer Sliko: Using Water: Science and Society at Penn State Harrisburg
About this course
The students generally worked through the module and the formative assessments on their own and we met once a week for 2 hours to review the material and work on the summative assessments.
A Success Story in Building Student EngagementThis class was a general education natural elective option for non-science majors. This class was scheduled as a hybrid class (meaning the students worked on most of the material on their own and only formally met once a week), and this schedule appealed to busy students looking to fit an elective into their schedule. This class was completely different from other Earth science electives and the students enjoyed talking about the "social" aspect of the water science.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate Materials
I made several changes to the schedule to account for expected and unexpected missed class meetings. To compensate for an expected cancelled class meeting, I taught Modules 6.1 and 6.2 before teaching Modules 4 and 5. Module 4 was completed entirely online to correspond to the missed class. Modules 8.1 and 8.2 were combined into one week to compensate for an unexpected missed class due to a snow day. Module 9 was also completed entirely online.
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.
This course was taught as a general education elective and was meant to be different from the same, traditional electives normally offered. This class is completely different from the other geology-based electives, and the topics are relevant and designed to be interesting for non-science majors.