Poster Number 192
Monday, 6 October 2008
George R. Brown Convention Center, Exhibit Hall E
Student learner outcomes, rather than the quality and effectiveness of teaching, are being emphasized to evaluate academic programs. This movement is reasonable, as any teacher who uses formative feedback in class can attest that what a student is learning is not always the same as what a teacher thinks he/she is teaching. To facilitate efforts to assess the effectiveness of learning in our Environmental, Soil, and Water Science major, and to raise the level of professionalism among students in soil science, we initiated a soil science certification preparation course. The course was meant to be a review of the six areas of soil science that are tested in the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) Fundamentals of Soil Science examination. Classes were held once a week for eight weeks for up to 2.5 hours per session. The SSSA Study Guide was the “text” used to facilitate and focus review. The class concentrated on one section of the study guide, or exam material, each week. Students reviewed material and completed the self-test before each class. Students initiated, led, and directed classroom discussion based on their sense of clarity, level of knowledge, or desire to discuss further. In other words, instructors did not lecture, but facilitated discussion, and relied heavily on students teaching themselves and each other. Student feedback suggested the course and exam provided a valuable opportunity for students to simultaneously evaluate and improve learning by synthesizing information from several courses.