To the Instructor
While Sustainable Societies in Africa: Modules on Education for Sustainable Development has been designed to use a student-centered learning process, you are the one who will make that process possible. This course does not require you to be an expert on the whole range of subject matter covered in this course. It will however require you to be a successful conductor of the student “orchestra” in your classroom. A conductor does not make the music. A conductor makes it possible for the many musicians to successfully make music together.
Just as an orchestra has a variety of musicians with many different instruments, you will have a variety of students with a variety of learning styles, abilities, and experiences. Their variety is an asset. You will orchestrate how those abilities are maximized for the good of the class. Developing students to become citizens who will be able to work together to create more sustainable societies requires wise choices. Make class assignments that will develop students’ abilities. Challenge them to think systematically and creatively, to understand complex issues, and to propose solutions.
To make such individual growth possible for each student, it is necessary that students know from the first day of class that all students will be expected to treat you and all of their classmates with dignity and respect. Make it clear to them that whether they are female or male, from the city or the country, from a family, tribe or region where simple survival is a challenge, or from one fortunate to have abundance, they all are equals in this class. The achievement of sustainable societies will not happen without a culture of respect for all, including gender equality, and equity beginning here in your classroom. This message may need to be reinforced multiple times during the course. Be sure to do so when needed.
Building students’ individual and group skills is a primary objective of this course. Skills-building should include the areas of independent research, analysis, critical-thinking, problem-solving, creative thinking processes such as modeling and formulating questions, and higher level thinking processes such as identifying bias, inferring, relating, applying, and reflecting. Encourage students to do independent research.
Objectives and Approach
There are dual objectives for this course. The first is to increase studentsí knowledge and understanding of social, economic, and environmental sustainability issues. The second is to develop their ability to design strategies to address those issues.
To accomplish both objectives, Sustainable Societies in Africa: Modules on Education for Sustainable Development uses learner-centered pedagogy where students are active learners. They will learn about the issues through readings, assignments, and research experiences outside of class, and then demonstrate that knowledge in classroom discussion groups, presentations, evaluations of each otherís in-class presentations, the final examination, and their Part 4 community application projects.
In order to successfully utilize the learner-centered pedagogy, cooperative learning should be encouraged whenever possible. Cooperative learning is an instructional paradigm in which students work in teams to complete structured tasks (e.g., homework assignments, laboratory experiments, or design projects). Five criteria should define these team assignments: positive interdependence, individual accountability, face-to-face interaction, appropriate use of collaborative skills, and regular self-assessment of team functioning. Studies show that when correctly implemented, cooperative learning improves information acquisition and retention, higher-level thinking skills, interpersonal and communication skills, and self-confidence.
You can support this learner-centered process by being the studentsí guide and advisor. Look for opportunities for them to work in groups. Help them learn to successfully gather sound information, ask critical questions, and share their considered opinions and analyses with their classmates in the group discussions and in-class presentations. Use the Activities recommended in the To the Instructor manual for this purpose. The Activities that are recommended provide variety and offer the opportunity to include local and national perspective. Be sure to take advantage of every opportunity to encourage and expose the students to a variety of learning methods and experiences including fact finding, site visits, and independent research. While the To the Instructor manual provides in-class activities for every classroom day.
However, look for opportunities to create partnerships and collaboration with community groups, government, and the private sector especially for student research, field experience and the student projects. Seek every opportunity to get the students out of the classroom, doing independent research and experiencing the reality of sustainability issues first-hand. These may include visits to places where the issues they are studying in their readings are there to see, touch, smell, and feel. They can be project sites, on campus experiences such as university laboratories, community-based organizations, public hearings, and especially visits to the communities for which students will be designing their sustainability strategies in Part 4 of the course. Let students assist you by suggesting places to go and helping with setting up such events.
To the Instructor Manual
Sustainable Societies in Africa: Modules on Education for Sustainable Development includes a variety of activity types and a wide range of subject matter. Few instructors will have had experience in all the activity types. Fewer still will be knowledgeable in all subject areas. Because of this, the To the Instructor manual has been designed to assist you in quickly understanding both the purpose and desired outcome for each Part of the course.
The course has four parts. For a general description of each part please read Structure in the Overview.
All Parts of Sustainable Societies have the following four common sections:
- Summary – General description of the purpose and activities
- Objective – The focus of the Part
- Results – What students are expected to know or be able to do upon completion of the Part
- Activities – Description of each activity and its purpose (Activities may include readings, assignment questions, presentations, tests, quizzes, and group discussions)
These four sections are provided in the student materials, except for the test and quiz information.
Parts 1 through 3 include readings. Part 4 is a student project which does not have readings associated with it.
Readings for Parts 1, 2, and 3 include:
- Core Readings (recommended)
In addition to Core Readings, Part 2 also includes:
- Sustainability Strategies (recommended)
- Supplemental Readings (optional—only provided in the CD version of the course)
Readings are listed in recommended order of relevance to the topic. There is a short summary of the content of each reading in each reading list. (If you are using the CD version of the course, the page numbers for individual readings in the reading lists are the page numbers on the actual documents to be read.)
The To the Instructor manual provides additional information including sections on
- Preparation – How you should prepare for an Activity
- In Class – What you should do when with the students
- Assignment Questions – Questions to have students answer outside of class that test their understanding of the Core Readings. The Assignment Questions are included in the student materials. The Assignment Questions WITH answers are provided only in the To the Instructor manual
- Discussion Questions – Questions for use with student groups in the classroom that test students’ understanding of the inter-relationships among the issues in the Issue Blocks
Also in the To the Instructor manual are recommendations and guidance for activities that are specific to each Part.
For activities that have readings, it could take up to three hours to read all Core and Supplemental Readings. It is hoped that the short summaries that accompany each listed reading will help you more quickly assess which readings you wish to assign to the students.
It is realistic for you to consider two to three hours per Activity (per class) as a realistic amount of time for class preparation.
The typical required student time per Activity will vary by Part. Initial Activities in Part 1 require no preparation time by the student. In Part 2, the longest Part of the course, one to one-and-a-half hours preparation time outside of class for each one hour spent in class can be expected unless you assign Supplemental Readings.
Student preparation time in Part 3 can average from one hour—if few assignment questions are required—to two hours or more if all Assignment Questions are assigned.
In Part 4, the Student Project, classes do not need to be held while students are completing their project drafts. During this time you may choose to meet with students individually or in groups. Classes resume for the Student Project Presentations, the Final Exam, and the Assessment and Celebration.
It is recommended that when you divide your class into small discussion groups you seek to achieve balance in each group by having a mix of students with diverse expertise (or interest) so that each group will have at least one person interested in each of the aspects of issues to be discussed (social, economic, and environmental).
Measuring student progress
Assessing student progress should be continuous throughout the course.
The Pre-test will establish a pre-course baseline of what students know about the sustainability issues that will be explored during the course and will document what they understand about how to build a strategy to address an issue. We recommend that the Pre-Test be taken during class and graded using the Scoring Rubric provided in your To the Instructor - Supplemental Materials.
Students should be told that their grade on the Pre-Test will not have a bearing on their final course grade. The Pre-Test will provide a great deal of information that will help you determine which activities and modules in the course may be most useful for the students.
Reviewing the students’ Student Matrix Tracking Sheet will tell you how well students are paying attention to the issue concerns of their classmates.
The readiness of students to participate in group work will be displayed during the Sustainability Game.
Having students lead in the presentations of the Voices on Achieving Sustainable Development may reveal some classroom leaders.
There are more than twenty-five potential quizzes if the Sustainability Strategy Analysis and Application Sheet is used for that purpose in each of the Issue Modules.
For each Issue Module there are also opportunities to grade students’ Sustainability Strategy presentations and leadership during group discussions.
Students’ proposed outlines for their Part 4 community application projects can also be graded. The Sustainability Strategy Analysis and Application Sheet can provide the template for this outline.
Assessing the performance of discussion groups and grading of students’ evaluation of the Case Study (again using the Sustainability Strategy Analysis and Application Sheet) are both ways to evaluate student learning.
Part 4 is where an assessment of the students’ learning and skills development from the course is best accomplished.
The Final Examination retests the students with the same questions used in the Pre-Test to determine change in issue knowledge and understanding and in understanding of strategy building. In order to compare results with the Pre-Test, the Final Examination should be administered in the same conditions as the Pre-Test, that is, in-class. However, this time the test grade counts toward the student’s final course grade. A crucial measurement is the student’s change in knowledge and understanding from the Pre-Test to the Final Examination. Grading again is based on the Scoring Rubric provided in your To the Instructor - Supplemental Materials.
The largest portion of students’ grades comes from the students’ community application projects which demonstrate their ability to design sustainability strategies for their communities. The projects measure the extent to which they are able to apply what they have learned during the course. Scoring recommendations for the student project can be found in the To the Instructor – Part 4, Section 2, Student Oral Presentations.
Suggested grading would be as follows:
- Part 1, 2, and 3 Class Participation and Activities (including quizzes, in-class presentations and out-of class assignments) 30%
- Student Application Project in Part 4 (including project outline developed in Part 2 and refined in Part 3) 40%
- Final Examination 30%