June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Multidisciplinary Engineering and Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
24.929.1 - 24.929.15
Nature/Society: Situating student learning outcomes in a first-year Sustainability Studies courseNature/Society is a First Year Studies seminar at a polytechnic university designed to fostercritical thinking about human/environment interactions through humanistic and social scientificinquiry. The course also serves as the core seminar for a sustainability-oriented living andlearning community on campus, although it is also open to selected other students who expressedan interest in registering for the course. The course was designed by the Director of the FirstYear Studies Program, and incorporates various pedagogic strategies designed to enhancestudent engagement and learning experiences. This paper offers an initial learning outcomesassessment of this course based on several survey instruments administered during the fall 2012semester.Specifically, the paper draws on a) the results of a pre/post survey; b) instructor evaluation ofstudent work; c) a separate, blind review of student work evaluated according to a quantitativemetric and standardized evaluation rubric (based on a modified Bloom’s taxonomy). Thepre/post survey instrument was used to assess student interest, attitudes, knowledge, and skills,and was administered at the start and end of the semester. The standardized rubric involvedassessments of reading comprehension, critical understanding, and informed judgment. For theblind review, seven additional learning outcomes were assessed based on the Education forSustainability (EfS) outcomes criteria proposed in 2006 by the Higher Education AssociationsSustainability Consortium (HEASC), Association for the Advancement of Sustainability inHigher Education (AASHE), and American College Personnel Association (ACPA).We analyze our data sets to examine the relationship between student demographics, attitudes,achievement, learning trajectories, and engagement; compare instructor and independentevaluation of learning outcomes; and identify points of divergence between the Nature/Societyand EfS learning outcomes, with a qualitative discussion of the comparative strengths andweaknesses of each. Nature/Society also functions as a component within the university’s newlyestablished undergraduate major in Sustainability Studies. We examine the significance of ourfindings with regards to the future development of the Sustainability Studies program and as ageneral field of undergraduate study.
Wilcox , J. E., & Akera, A. (2014, June), Nature/Society: Situating Student Learning Outcomes in a First-year Sustainability Studies Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22862
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