How to Combine the Technical with the Interesting

WSE 210 is a bacc core class for physical science. The goal of the class is to teach students about the anatomy and physical descriptions of wood species. Students learn through lectures and a hands-on lab that encourage them to explore and ask questions. The class typically has between 30-50 students and was offered twice per year (fall and winter term).

As a hybridized course, the class will meet in person once per week for the lab element, and the remaining time will be online learning. The online portion will be mostly comprised of lectures including slides, but also recorded portions. In the past we’ve used a lot of informational and short videos to help students grasp certain concepts and I anticipate that we will continue to do this. Students are also encouraged to visit two websites that provide additional information in relation to wood species and the structural elements of each.

One of the things that I am really excited about modifying is making the testing portions of the course less weighted and more frequent. The idea of smaller stake tests is something that I really resonate with and I think it will help students learn better, or at least help them when we run into concepts that are more difficult to understand. I am also planning on creating an element of ownership for the students in which they get to select a tropical wood species and give the other students an online lesson regarding that species. In all honesty, I am super excited about all of this!

The online content will be a build up for the species identification in lab. The goal is that the students will understand the anatomy and structural characteristics in wood and wood species and then be able to use these skills in lab while actually handling and identifying the species. Because this class is so unique, I am very aware of maintaining the thrill (this may be the wrong term) of learning the identifying skills and I want to be sure to keep this as part of the class. There has been a comradery between students in the class because the skills and the content are so different from other things they will learn during their academic career.

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One Response to How to Combine the Technical with the Interesting

  1. mckielc says:

    I think you’re onto something with your idea of having students take smaller stake tests more frequently. It may not only decrease student stress, which may increase engagement, you may be able to quickly identify problems students are having with concepts. I intend to figure out a way to incorporate this idea in the online portion of my class.

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