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How to use experience-based environmental projects

Introducing the project

A student lying in the grass

Because experience-based projects require that students use their own lives as the basis for the assignment, it is important to introduce the activity in such a way that it poses an inspiring challenge, rather than a mandated change in lifestyle.

Helpful strategies include:

Because these projects require significant lifestyle changes, it is not recommended that experience-based projects be mandatory for every student. If students feels forced into it, they may resent the assignment as a personal imposition. An easy solution is to create two separate assignments: an experience-based project and a traditional assignment such as writing a research paper. The students that are ready for a challenge and for something different will choose the experience-based option. Students that are not interested or are unable to participate in a lifestyle-based project can choose the traditional assignment.

General Tips

See detailed teaching tips for the Lifestyle Project.

Feedback and Assessment

One way to track student progress and also provide a medium for reflective observation is through journaling. Journals are used as a means for assessing each student, as well providing them with specific feedback, guidance and motivation. Students turn in journals at regular intervals throughout the project. They report on their actions, reflect on what they've experienced and answer questions you've provided along the way. Students' journals also provide amazing insight into their lives and can be a very enriching read.

Example Project: The Lifestyle Project

For a specific example of using an experience-based project in your course, see the Lifestyle Project, along with the accompanying teaching notes and journals and assessment pages.

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