Evaluation of Field-based Learning in a New Online Sustainability Course

Research output: Other contribution


Sustainability is a relatively new field simultaneously addressing economic health, environmental amenities, and social issues. Sustainable Community Assessment and Planning (SUS 350) is a new course in the Sustainable Community Development major, minor, and undergraduate certificate at Stephen F. Austin State University. It is designed to introduce students to: a) varied methods of data collection; b) complex community planning issues; c) synthesis of economic, environmental, and social issues. Distance (online) education is not typically associated with field-based learning. However, field work in sustainability can be encouraged through activities such as: monitoring energy/cost saving; measuring biological status; and citizen social surveys. Student online journal notes/discussions related to these field exercises were assessed using a rubric for evaluation of information, creative thinking, problem solving, and communication of content. The rubric has a scale of 1-4 (4 is highest). Most all scores were 2 or 3, with an overall average of 2.3. Higher scores (averaging 2.5 and 2.7) were found in field activities that most synthesized economy and environment on campus, such as a campus energy monitoring workshop, a campus food waste audit, and discussions centered around a future campus green fund. Despite moderate scores, students did show capability for higher-order thinking, especially in synthesizing economy and environment on campus. Future course offerings will better link content related to off-campus community development with field-based learning, through use of a community development text and better linking of community and student schedules.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
StatePublished - Apr 29 2015

Publication series

NameBright Ideas Conference

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