Flexible assignments

I designed and used these and other choices as part of evaluation process in a 3rd year ecology course for non-science majors. Marks per choice ranged from 2-6% depending on the complexity. Students could earn up to 13% of their course grade by doing these. Feel free to use or modify in your course. Many of the choices related to asking students to make connections of the course topic to their own lives, to be pro-active in the community, to ‘go outside and play’ and to communicate in a variety of formats. I ask for attribution:  Alice Cassidy https://cassidyinview.wordpress.com/

Flexible assignment choices:

 1a:  Inquire: Choose one item that you consumed yesterday as part of a meal (e.g. banana, tofu, salmon, orange juice, bread, canned beans, wine). Pose two or three questions that you have about it, as it relates to our use of the natural world.

1b: Answer an Inquiry: Choosing from a 1a assignment contributed by someone else, answer one of the questions posed. Your answer may be based on prior knowledge or brief research you conduct (please cite at least one reference to support your answer.)

1c:  Calculate:  Your Ecological Footprint, using the tool at http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/calculators/

or another tool of your choosing. After calculating, suggest a few things you might consider doing that might lower your impact on the planet (you do not need to disclose your footprint calculation, but if you use another tool, please provide the URL.)

1d:  Culture: Using about 4 minutes during class, describe the human ecology significance of a notable day in the calendar or related aspect of a culture or country.

1e:  Share your story: Using about 4 minutes during class, share a personal experience or story, or a quote or reading from poetry, literature or another source that you cite. Explain how it relates to the course and the topic for that particular date.

1f:  Describe a memento, image (photo or drawing), artifact (clothing, jewelry or other bought, made or found objects) from your personal travels or experience, or a tip, webpage or other resource you know about or found. If you use an image or item, include a digital photo of it if you can, or ‘paint a picture of it in words’.

 1g:  Human Ecology Connections:  Using both text and images, tell us about an ecological principle (e.g. biodiversity, cycles in nature, ecosystems) from the perspective of a conference or other event you attended, other knowledge or work experience, something you read or heard in the media or other brief research you have conducted.

1h: Play the role of a current political figure, from municipal, provincial or federal levels of government (local or global). Explain your platform (that relates to an aspect of human ecology such as climate change; development of natural land, fresh or salt water; use of natural resources; conservation; species protection or another topic) in a heartfelt performance that also makes clear to everyone that figure’s stance and reasoning.

1i:  Research your daily life, choosing one of these topics/questions, conduct research to explore more, citing at least two references: i) Is there an food, liquid or medicine you or someone you know is allergic to? Explain it ecologically including reference to biodiversity or ecosystems (e.g. why are some people allergic to nuts also not able to consume peaches?)  ii) Summarize local recycling for particular numbers shown on the containers (1 through 8) of plastic and tetra-paks; who takes these and what is done with them?; iii) explain four kinds of batteries that can or cannot be recycled locally (and why); iv) after identifying three natural ingredients in products you use or consume regularly (think of shampoo, tea, clothing, jewelry, ???), tell or show us where these are found naturally and how their properties benefit us

1j:  Review a book:  Read a book (or make use of one you have read recently) and create your ‘personal interpretation’ of it by way of a 1-page creative summary, that could include some form of interview of someone else, photos, web links, prose or ??? Be sure to give the full citation of the book so that others can find and read it too.

1k: Be a reporter: Interview at least three people around you, or conduct a survey by email, about a topic related to our use and/or abuse of the natural world. Write a brief piece, introducing the topic and summarizing the responses. Examples might include human ecology connections to:  favourite places to travel, where in the world you have lived, top ten list of sustainably friendly businesses in your town, questions for future students in a course about humans and the natural world.

1l:  Be a photographer: Head outside (and/or inside) with your digital camera, and/or look through a collection of photos you already have (that you took yourself, or the person who did so gives permission for you to use). Using a minimum of 5 pictures, create a PowerPoint or Word document that also has captions or some way to explain how your photos connect to humans and the natural world.

1n:  Do you have another idea for one of these assignments? Let me know.