FLUIDITY TEACHING: THE TRIALS AND EXHILIRATIONS OF TEACHING SUSTAINABILITY MANAGEMENT WITHOUT A TEXBOOK
Goucher College (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The potential exists for management courses to become increasingly homogeneous as publishers provide not only the textbook, but presentations, supplemental exercises, and test questions. Students are receiving similar lectures throughout the country based on the textbook authors’ opinions of what is important. When Goucher College became one of only a handful of US colleges to offer an entry level undergraduate management course in managing sustainability, it created both an opportunity and a challenge as there was no suitable textbook available. The route taken was unlike any other course being offered in the college. This approach, dubbed ‘fluidity teaching’, involved designing the course content based on students’ interests and talents. At the beginning of each term, students are asked of their particular interests in managing sustainability. From this, a shortlist of interests was drawn up and voted upon; that served the basis of the semester’s course content. This session discusses the process of course design and implementation without a formal textbook. Features include in-class student expert presentations, related guest speakers, collaboration on an academic sustainability model, co-ordination of in-class with external college events, and issue debates creating a tailored experiential class that emphasized critical learning and decision making rather than ascertaining the ‘right answer’.
The course has now been taught for two semesters and with it came unique challenges. Finding and preparing the course content and speakers of interest on short notice was sometimes hair raising, ascertaining testing material which was fair yet unique to each course was not easy, coordinating with the rest of the college was at times, difficult. The biggest issues, however, were managing the students. Firstly it required a fair amount of retraining the expectations of conscientious students who wanted the course content and assignments for the entire semester laid out at the beginning of term. Once the benefits of being fluid in course content were discussed and enthusiastically accepted, these students learned to ‘go with the flow’ in exchange for the ability to spend more time on subjects of interest and less on those they didn’t embrace. Secondly and to a lesser extent there was some issues arising out of ensuring all students had at least one of their main interests addressed in the course content. The course has been a resounding success achieving student satisfaction ratings of 4.9 out of 5 and remains oversubscribed by double.
Keywords: Fluidity teaching, managing sustainability.