In this course, Geology and the Environment, the final course module offers students a choice of two different types of capstone assignments to complete by the end of the term. Students choose to participate in either the Lifestyle Project, or to write a research paper. The Lifestyle Project requires students to turn in a journal each week, in which they collect and analyze data about their own lifestyles and the impact of their lifestyle choices on the environment. Each student chooses three different categories of behavior in which they are interested in changing their habits: The use of electricity, water, heat or automobiles, food types and consumption rates, waste production, and environmental awareness. Each week, one category is addressed with the goal of reducing environmental impacts through a gradual but definitive change in everyday habits. Each week, the project becomes more rigorous as students the demands of each category increase.
In the Labor/Management Relations course, students participate in a virtual labor contract negotiation as either a Union member or a member of the Management team. The negotiation may or may not conclude in either groups’ favor; The goal is to provide students the opportunity to collaborate and create the outcome they desire based on their team’s priorities and collective bargaining demands, combined with course concepts and the knowledge they’ve acquired throughout the course. Constructivist assessments like this negotiations activity require that students choose their own mode of expression, work collaboratively, think and reflect on their learning styles and processes, and to revise their individual ideas to accomodate collective goals while working through the early, middle and later stages of the activity. The emphasis is on the creation of personal meaning and the thought process, rather than on arriving at a correct answer.
In the Management Information Systems course, the activity that combines a performance assessment with a social learning opportunity for students involves a consulting firm and a dirt bike company. Divided into teams, students take the part of either the company owners or the managerial consultants working for Dirt Bike USA. In collaboration, the teams exchange information and perform an overall systems analysis for Dirt Bike USA, considering things like business continuity planning, customer privacy policies, legal constraints, and environmental policies. The “consultants” then make managerial recommendations to the “owners” of Dirt Bike USA, and the company responds accordingly.
In this activity, neither team of students is right or wrong. The end result for all participants is a deeper understanding of the complexities of managerial responsibilities and long-term systems planning through the acquisition of problem-solving skills and opportunities for hands-on applications of those skills.