Avit Bhowmik | I care for climate and environment

Core Area 4 - A Pedagogical Strategy

This is the final section of the portfolio where I outline and describe the solution that I came up with through the methodology described in the previous section. Overall, the solution consists of three steps: (1) A revision of the existing CCGA08 syllabus and constrain ILOs focusing on the problem module, i.e. ability to act is discarded and only the ability of critical thinking and reflection in delivered, (2) A new course design (possible course title "Climate Action: adaptation and mitigation") explicitly focusing on ILOs and activities delivering the ability to act and testing them using the theme 4 of CCGA01 course, and (3) Design of activities and assessment procedures accommodating active learning and critical thinking. Below I describe the solution in detail in the following sections and provide sample activities and assessments as well as demonstrated ability to act by the students at the test course.

  • A 3P framework for solution
  • Revised syllabus of CCGA08
  • Syllabus of a new course at a test phase
  • Proven ability

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A 3P formula for solution


I adopted a "3P framework" constituting domains Principles, Process and Progress that I developed for the partial fulfillment of AUPU1, for the development of my solution. The principles are at the core of this formula, which aims at a constructive alignment with the actual requirement at the climate action field. The process domain formulates, outlines and implements ILOs to deliver the action addressed by the principles and thus to fulfill the tasks the teacher has at hand. Finally, the progress step formulates the activities and evaluates the performance of the processes in light of active learning and critical thinking. Below I describe the activities of each ``P'' domain undertaken during the revision of CCGA08 and development of the new course.

Grid Image The 3P framework for implementing solutions.

  • Principles
  • The three questions that the principles domain asks keeping students centered learning, skills and automation in mind from a teacher's point of view are: (a) What is needed? (b) What is demanded and (c) What is lacking in the climate mitigation and adaptation field, to design an effective constructive alignment (Biggs, 1996). The answer to these is that the field urgently requires universities and higher education institutes provide a means for people - students, youth activists, stakeholders in every sector and working at every scale of society - to consider the systems they are embedded in and allow them opportunities to become more fully involved with climate action. Education programs and courses are expected to foster public awareness and participation "in developing adequate responses to climate change and its impacts”.

  • Process
  • The process domain comprises an achievable Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO), to assist in seamless teaching activities and the assessment and feedback procedure to achieve solution of delivering the ability to act in the new course and the ability of critical thinking and reflection in CCGA08. After a careful review of the existing course ILO based on my experience of the field and knowledge gained at the methodology section, I suggest the following ILOs for the new course, while discarding the action and solutions related ILOs from the CCGA08 syllabus.

    Upon completion of the newly proposed course, students should be able to:

    • give an account of the concept climate adaptation and mitigation (action)
    • outline climate action strategies for a systemic point of view
    • critically examine climate action strategies, their actors, scale and rate of implementation
    • take a position on how they themselves and the society at the individual and political levels can act to solve the climate change problem

    The major factor hindering climate mitigation and climate action in general, is the lack of proper knowledge about climate solutions and strategies. Hence, addressing the major drawback of the field, the ILOs have been designed to convey the message that solutions for mitigating dangerous climate change exist. Moreover, since the rate of implementation of the solutions critically lacks the pace needed for successful climate action, the aim of the course was also to enable students to generally illustrate how solutions can be implemented at a substantially faster rate (exponentially) and how they can involve themselves into the implementation.

    This domain also evaluates the success of the overall CCGA08 and the new courses in light of (i) National qualitative targets (ii) Quality assurance scheme of Karlstad University and (iii) Critical thinking ability of the students. Aligning with the qualitative targets assured that the outcomes from students in terms of knowledge and understanding, competence and skills, and judgment and approach as well as their expected capabilities for carrying out independent projects met the national goals from the course. However, I also focused on inter- and multidisciplinary foundation of knowledge of the students, which are currently overlooked by the national qualitative targets but are critical for climate mitigation field. A seamless coordination and management of both courses were ensured and a synchronization of CCGA08 was enabled with the proposed new course at the institutional level by using the quality assurance scheme. Dialogs among teachers, students and administration was crucial for this stage.

  • Progress
  • In this domain, In include teaching activities that are designed to get away from the traditional lecture-based teaching and implement collaborative and discussion oriented learning. The teaching activities I intend to implement in both courses are: (i) Flipped Classroom, (ii) Think-pair-share and (iii) Individualized questions. In a flipped classroom, I will only provide information that are minimally required for starting the discourse of a session. This will be more like an anecdote for starting a discussion in the classroom. Students will watch and listen to recorded lectures, by me as well as by other prominent climate scientists and teachers (in and outside the classroom), and then will involve themselves into group discussions, i.e. think-pair-share, with or without involving the teacher (me). Then the students will present the output of their discussion and provide recommendations on how things should be improved, for example, in terms of policy interventions. They will be encouraged to bring in perspectives from their origin (as the students will be from all over the world) and personal experience. I will also instigate discussions (sometimes) by asking individualized (not general) questions, which will be targeted to a particular student with particular background and experience. This will, in my opinion, motivate active participation of the students in the class.

    I propose three forms of assessment methods for both courses with the following grading criteria:

    • Individual Article Review with 10 points and a weight of 20\% of the total grade for CCGA08.
    • Group and individual presentations with 10 points and a weight of 20\% and 40% of the total grade for CCGA08 and the new course, respectively.
    • Final Individual Essay with 10 points and a weight of 60\% of the total grade for both courses.

    These assessment methods, in addition to the target of achieving the ILO, targeted at providing and improving three sets of skills among the students: (a) Scientific skills (b) Communication and Problem Solving skills and (c) Critical thinking. Since literature review and horizon scan is an indispensable part of extracting knowledge from published scientific literature and policy documents, students were trained in literature review to gain knowledge about and identify causes and impacts of climate change in CCGA08. Through presenting individually and in groups, students learned and sharpened important communication and problem solving skills, which are important for the climate communication and action field in general. Students will write and submit scientific articles in their final individual essay task, which targeted at the development of scientific skills among students. Collectively, these assessment methods will also evaluate students' critical thinking skill and also provided important tips for enhancing it. Students were continuously given feedback during the course, and grades for the article review and presentations will be given immediately. Continuous feedback will also be collected from the students for the improvement of the teaching activities and assessment methods.

    Excursions

    Two excursions are currently under planning across Sweden, where students gained their hands-on how climate solutions and policies are implemented on the ground to mitigate climate change impacts experienced locally. The aim is also to achieve team bonding activities and practicing a little bit of climate friendly lifestyle for a short period. The Risk and Environmental Studies discipline has recently established a collaboration with Forshaga municipality to assist them in designing a Climate Protocol aiming at achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 in line with Swedish climate commitment. In addition to the formal consultancy and advise from experts at Karlstad University, Forshaga municipality will facilitate student visits during the development of the climate protocol. We will take advantage of this opportunity and send students to Forshaga municipality (as excursions) to learn how climate action in taken at local scales and gain practical insights on climate mitigation. This will also provide an opportunity to the students to actively participate in the climate action process and earn hands-on.

    The output of all activities in the progress domain are fed into the principles domain to start the course development process for the Autumn 2020 semester. Thus, a cyclic procedure is maintained through continuous feedback procedure with the help of the knowledge gained and tools received in the AUPU2 course.

    Canvas discussions

    Since all courses were shifted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the planned classroom discussions were inhibited. Moreover, since the number of participants will likely increase (we are expecting more than 50 students to sign up) in the newly designed course, facilitating discussions in the classroom involving all students may be difficult if not impossible. Keeping these situations in mind and also to provide students a stepwise guideline towards the final assignment, I introduced online discussions on Canvas in the module 4 of CCGA01 (see the sample below). These discussions were created using the discussion feature on Canvas and reflecting on the requirements of the final assignment to make sure that the mandatory issues are covered. They also ensured active participation of the students and organized peer feedback to each other on their activities.

    Grid Image Online discussions designed on Canvas to provide stepwise guidelines and involve students.

Revised syllabus of CCGA08


Below is the revised syllabus of the CCGA08 course. Note that the ILOs and activities related to action and solution are discarded and a core focus is put on the critical thinking and review of the climate change problem.



Syllabus of a new course at a test phase


Below is the course outline of theme 4 of the CCGA01 course that I have developed as an end result of this portfolio work and will be edited as a syllabus of the new course currently being planned. Note that the final assignment of individual essay now explicitly ask for individual action strategies and how they can be linked to the fulfillment of large scale of societal transformation. Also note that after the successful development and launch of the new course, CCGA01 will either be terminated or remodeled to address the sustainability issues other than climate change to avoid redundancy with the two course discussed here in the portfolio.



Below is an example lecture session I led as a part of theme 4 in CCGA01 via Zoom platform. This demonstrates how the typical teaching activities in the course would look like and also that the demand of the "ability of action" is clarified upfront.



Proven ability


In the final presentation session of module 4 at CCGA01 on 5 June 2020, the students demonstrated their ability to act proving the partial success of the adopted strategy and solution. Below is a sample example from a student's presentation slides where the student's own role in climate action and solution implementation is explicitly stated. The students did not speculate or overestimate their ability but their proposed actions matched their background, expertise and position in the society. Hence, I argue that the proposed solution will likely provide ability to act to the students in the newly designed course.



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