ASSETT asks Atreyee Bhattacharya about her course design

Published: April 24, 2017
atreyee

In spring 2016, Atreyee Bhattacharya (Instructor, Environmental Sciences) approached ASSETT for help in designing her Drought, Climate, and Conflict course. For this capstone course, she “wanted students to have a very interactive experience [and] be engaged with the content far more than passively listening.” Over the next few months, she partnered with Jacie Moriyama, Teaching and Learning Consultants (TLC), in designing the course. 

The design:
During the initial consultation, Atreyee and Jacie discussed student learning outcomes, as well as her course and teaching goals. Given Atreyee’s desire to have a highly interactive course, she decided to use the flipped classroom model.  Flipping the classroom means students are introduced to new content through required readings, videos, and other resources before the class session. Then class time is devoted to participating in activities that applies student’s knowledge through labs, debates, and hands-on training.  

The student experience:
Atreyee knew many of her students would not become scientists; however, she wanted them to acquire skills that would help them think like one and continue to make informed judgements beyond the class. She designed in-class activities that supported this goal by having students engage in real world simulations, research, debates, and using a variety of software to analyze and present information. Students also got used to the fact that not everything is in the textbook and began relying on alternative sources of information such as papers, historical documents, and government reports. They also learned what sources to use when conducting research and how to critically read source material. For their research projects, students extracted, quantified, and synthesized data into meaningful information. For one project, students presented their research through a poster board using infographics. Some of the posters were selected to be a part of the undergraduate poster session. While these were required assignments in completing the course, Atreyee considered this a CV building experience.’

The teaching impact:
Going through the design process has impacted Atreyee’s pedagogical approach and the way she teaches in general.  As she develops other courses, she incorporates research-based teaching techniques to make the learning process special and engaging. She’s becoming comfortable with incorporating a variety of teaching methodologies into her courses and would like to explore more possibilities with other faculty.

The challenge: 
When faculty are involved in a structured learning community, they benefit from the cross disciplinary discourse and perspectives from colleagues. The biggest challenge Atreyee faced was not having a role model or mentor to speak to regarding the teaching methods and techniques she wanted to use in the classroom. She felt it would have been beneficial to speak to someone who had more experience. Atreyee hopes that faculty participate and get involved with ASSETT’s learning communities and events.

The process:
When asked about the design process, Atreyee said “…Jacie was fabulous and she listened to what I wanted and gave me a very good amount of feedback. She gave me ideas based on the literature of pedagogy. In fact, Jacie has offered to help me with another course.”  

If you would like to work with one of ASSETT’s TLCs on course design please contact us at assett@colorado.edu.