Applied Methods in Community-Engaged Environmental Science 205 Course

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Leah Bendell, Department of Biological Sciences and Environmental Science Program

Project team: Tommy Rodengen, research assistant

Timeframe: July 2012 to April 2013

Funding: $10,003

Course addressed: EVSC 205 – Methods in Environmental Science

Poster presentation: View a poster (PDF) describing this project from the 2013 Symposium on Teaching and Learning.

Description: The motivation for this project stems from a desire to learn more about how students can learn most effectively when they engage with the local community. At SFU Burnaby, there is an active community surrounding Stoney Creek, a small but viable salmon-bearing creek beginning its 4km watercourse near UniverCity, which eventually flows into the Brunette River near Lougheed Highway.  Stoney Creek’s ecosystem restoration process will be the site of EVSC 205.  Students will collect and use real-time and in-stream monitoring measurements and record video interview of community member’s perspectives on the planning process for ecological restoration.

During in-stream monitoring, students will gain experience (i) using field instruments for measuring environmental variables, such as stream flow and ionic concentrations in water, (ii) identifying and assessing abundances of invertebrate and plant species, and (iii) conducting stream surveys.  Students will also interact with communities partners and other interested groups, learning the skills of community dialogue and outreach.  Students will use video to capture the thoughts and ideas of community members directly involved in the restoration of an ecosystem (i.e. Burnaby Engineering, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Stoney Creek Environmental Committee, UniverCity, UniverCity Neighbours for Environmental Sustainability, and others organizations). With permission from those interviewed, these videos will professionally edited and posted on our interactive website for students.

Questions addressed: Questions stated as goals are,

  • Explore how students learn how to account for and incorporate community perspectives into the planning process for ecological restoration,
  • Explore ways to incorporate real-time monitoring data into the student learning experience, and

  • Gauge the impact of our two exploratory goals on student experience and perceived depth and relevance of learning.

Knowledge sharing: The results of this project will be made available to the media in a press release from the Faculty of Environment. Results of this project will be available on the Environmental Science website.

Bendell, L., & Rodengen, T. (2013, May). Applied methods in community-engaged environmental science 205 course. Poster session presented at the Symposium on Teaching and Learning: Embracing Change @SFU, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.