Using Case Study Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) to Facilitate Critical Thinking in Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources (2015)

Funded by Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU)

During the spring 2014 semester, the Global Education Lab led a combined University of Florida (UF) and Texas A&M University (TAMU) study abroad program to Trinidad focusing on food security. As a part of that program, student participants were required to develop a case study focusing on one aspect of food security. The case studies were created in a digital format as reusable learning objects (RLOs), including a variety of video, photos, and audio media to integrate a cultural context to the issue. This RLO format was chosen to facilitate widespread sharing of the case studies. A total of 6 case studies were created and each case study is designed to be inclusive of all materials necessary of any instructor to implement (teaching notes, activities, assessments, etc.). Each case study is designed to for implementation in either 1 or 2 class sessions. By intention of the study abroad learning objectives and time frame, developing the case studies was the final project for student participants. The case studies have not been used yet. The activities proposed in this project are to complete the learning cycle by implementing the case study RLOs, assess student learning, and assess instructor perceptions of the case study RLOs. The rationale for this project is twofold. First, food security is a critical issue that will impact all segments of food, agriculture, and natural resource systems. By the year 2050, today’s college graduates will be positioned in positions of leadership to make a real impact in addressing this issue. Second, creating case study RLOs has tremendous (but untested) potential for providing efficient and effective opportunities to help students develop critical thinking skills. These case study RLOs are already created and available. This project will focus on implementing and testing these materials. The activities of this project will occur in two classes, one at the UF and one at TAMU. At UF, the case studies will be integrated in to AEC 4065: Issues in Agricultural and Life Sciences. This course attracts students from all across the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) and is designed to help students think critically about issues. At TAMU, the case studies will be integrated in to ALED 440: Leading Change. ALED 440 is a required writing course and designed to cultivate student’s capacity to foster change in their respective communities.