Engaging Students in Sustainability Learning: Exploration of Reading-related Activities

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Mark Roseland, Centre for Sustainable Community Development

Project team: Maria Spiliotopoulou, research assistant

Timeframe: June to December 2016

Funding: $5,000  

Course addressed: SCD/REM – 301

Final report: View Mark Roseland's final report (PDF)

Description: We are interested in the discovery and application of teaching and learning techniques that can help animate upper-division and graduate seminars. In this project, we seek ways through which students can be motivated to read their class texts carefully and critically, while participating in experiential activities directly linked to these written texts. Our focus is on experimenting with a few activities designed to deepen students’ engagement with assigned readings (experiential learning techniques, digital resources, and games) for a portion of the classes and evaluating the effectiveness of these activities by comparing their use to class sessions in which a traditional discussion is run.

Questions addressed:

  • Do students believe the pre- and/or in-class activities encourage deep or engaged reading?
  • Do students believe that the pre- and/or in-class activities help them understand and learn from the readings?
  • How engaged are students in classroom discussion/activity?
  • Do the pre- and/or in-class activities lead to better student understanding of the readings?
  • Do students enjoy or appreciate the pre- and/or in-class activities?

Knowledge sharing: We plan to discuss our project at least within the Centre for Sustainable Community Development, the School of Resource and Environmental Management, and the Faculty of Environment in the near future during research group meetings. Given the opportunity, we will certainly discuss our experience with colleagues in other departments and programs, for example through SFU’s annual Teaching and Learning Conferences.

Keywords: Academic reading, primary sources, in-class activities, pre-class activities