Assessment of collaborative approaches to teaching an undergraduate environmental management course

Karl E. Nordstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


An advanced-level, undergraduate course in applied shoreline management was offered for three successive years in one of three different forms, including a traditional lecture format, a hybrid half-lecture half-collaborative format, and a fully collaborative format to determine the advantages of each. The two collaborative formats required students to produce a technical report based on field research. Student evaluations indicated that a course that has the elements of lectures and collaborative research is less successful than a course devoted solely to collaborative work. Lower student evaluations of collaborative courses on questions related to the role of the instructor occur because students are the primary educators in a collaborative project. Students considered the field work of great value in the collaborative project, but they showed a reluctance to read about their subject and relate their work back to the literature. They also had difficulty coordinating their activities with fellow students outside class. Collaborative projects are well suited to environmental management courses because they can make use of research teams with different expertise to examine complex problems, and the collaborative structure is less contrived than it would be in a more fact-oriented course. The value of collaborative courses can be improved by making them fully complementary to lecture courses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-221
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geography
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


  • Class projects
  • Collaborative reports
  • Course evaluation
  • Environmental management
  • Field work
  • Research and writing
  • Student learning


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