Principles of Sustainability (10-806-112) is a (newer) three credit course taught online, face to face and blended at NWTC. This transferable course counts as a science elective at UWGB/UW-O and is quite popular with General studies transfer students and also with ADN to BSN completers.
What’s in the curriculum you may ask?
Principles and applications are involved, but also critical thinking. Solar energy (alternative energy), chemical cycling and biodiversity are considered the three scientific principles. Most of us would expect those topics. The SOCIAL science principles are: economics, politics and ethics.
Sub themes include: natural capital, natural capital degradation, trade-offs, solutions and individuals matter.
Any one of those sub themes could be a SPARK, or even a topic to integrate into a lesson in many disciplines that need applications/ current events.
The critical thinking charge to students in the preface lists these items:
- Question everything and everybody.
- Identify and evaluate your bias and beliefs
- Be open- minded and flexible
- Be humble about what you know
- Question evidence and conclusions presented
- Try to uncover differences in basic beliefs and assumptions
- Try to identify and assess motives of those presenting evidence
- Expect and tolerate uncertainty
- Do the arguments used involve logical fallicies or debating tricks?
- Do not believe everything you read on the internet
- Develop principles or rules to evaluate evidence
My hope is that more instructors will be encouraged to add some content from Principles of Sustainablity to their classes. Feel free to share your ideas!
This summer (and last) I taught (fulltime) Intro to Biochemistry which is mainly taken by students in Nursing pre-program. Most have not taken College 101 and I have been wanting to incorporate more mentoring and College 101 topics in this introductory course. I cannot recall a semester when I am not asked to take late assignments or to rearrange an assessment for work- related reasons. Each semester some students are very surprised by the amount of studying required for our class or the rigor involved.
Try as I have for many years to impart some of these truths, I decided about two years ago to meet with all students 1:1 so they could have an instructor who invites them to share and lets them know we are willing to help them find answers to questions about NWTC.
I have noticed more interaction among the students after these meetings and I am sure that some meetings also save some students time and effort when they decide to clarify for themselves how to 'do school'.
I find Starfish to be very helpful too, but not all students know how to use it.
Sometimes it is easy to think students know where the library/ assessment center/ BATHROOM is located, but I find each summer that not all students have been here before or feel comfortable exploring on their own. Many transfer students from universities have commented that they love the small classes and personal attention they receive at NWTC.
Instructing a three hour science lecture means attention to breaks is imperative! I have struggled with how to arrange breaks and also with guidelines for students on breaks.
After years of feeling breaks are “their free time”, I now set guidelines and remind students of our time limitations for learning the material together. I want breaks to refresh them!
Day one I discuss the brain’s need for oxygen and how blood flow makes that happen so exercise or at least stretching will help. I also address phone distractions and have a policy that states phone use must be outside of our classroom. (This is included in the syllabus.) Now when I announce breaks I remind the class we need to stretch and move and be back at this specific time. I try to write the time down as I usually have a student to talk with or some email to check too! I try to role- model by moving in the room and taking a good break too.
Do some of you have guidelines for breaks?