Socio-Environmental Synthesis Teaching Study

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Award Year: 
Principal Investigator: 
Alan Berkowitz, Cary Institute for Ecosystem Science
John Bishop, Washington State University–Vancouver
Mintesinot Jiru, Coppin State University
Caroline Solomon, Gallaudet University
Associated Program: 

The Socio-Environmental Synthesis (SES) Teaching Study is a SESYNC Venture addressing a number of critical questions:

  • What do undergraduate students need to know and be able to do to be proficient at SES, and how can their SES proficiency be assessed?
  • How is SES proficiency developed, how is it learned, and how can it be taught?
  • What supports and constrains effective SES teaching and pedagogy among participating undergraduate faculty?

This Venture synthesis group is comprised of faculty teams from five universities representing a variety of institutional settings and student populations: Coppin State University (HBCU), Gallaudet University (deaf and hard of hearing students and faculty), Washington State University–Vancouver (older, returning students), Widener University (liberal arts), and University of Maryland (flagship land grant). The synthesis begins with:

  • identification of important SES student competencies,
  • development of a standardized template for SES modules built on a case study approach to exploring a socio-environmental issue, and
  • development of multiple SES modules.

The modules will be used in classes at each of the institutions in order to compare student outcomes across a diverse range of settings. Formative and summative assessments for the SES learning goals are being undertaken. Growth in faculty knowledge, skills, and practices are being collected in faculty logs and portfolios and will also be synthesized. 

Bretton Alvare, Widener University
Bruce Grant, Widener University
David Hawthorne, SESYNC
Khadijat Rashid, Gallaudet University
Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens, Washington State University–Vancouver
Paul Thiers, Washington State University–Vancouver


Resource Title Brief Summary
Promoting Undergraduate Synthetic Learning through Case Studies on the Health of the Chesapeake Bay Sep 03, 2013

This poster describes an undergraduate course that was an exercise in teaching and learning how students do synthesis in order to tackle socio-environmental problems as part of a multi-year, multi-intuitional teaching study conducted through the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). During spring 2013, faculty and students in the course at Gallaudet University, a small liberal arts college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, focused on the sub-optimal health of the Chesapeake Bay.

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