Pedagogical Plan Purpose and Overview
In order to support the Institute’s mission, and to ensure the best possible education, the faculty have developed the following Pedagogical Plan.
In order to continually improve the program it is important to define learning strategies; how it is that we help students achieve the required outcomes. This is not an assessment plan but rather describes in an overall, high level sense how the outcomes are integrated into our program.
This plan covers all courses that our students take:
- Those that are taught within the Institute;
- As well as any practicum which is done outside the Institute?
The student outcomes are broad descriptions of the characteristics or abilities all of our graduates have attained. It requires a comprehensive Curriculum to help students achieve any single outcome. There are eleven identified student outcomes; multiple modules are used to help students achieve each outcome. Most modules help students develop abilities associated with more than one outcome.
Definition of Andragogy & Pedagogy
Andragogy is the theory and practice of education of adults. The word is a combination of andro, meaning “of men” and gogy, meaning “to lead“, it arose from the practice of pedagogy to address the specific needs in the education of adults as opposed to the education of children.
Pedagogy is the art or science of being a teacher, generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction. The word comes from the Ancient Greek παιδαγωγέω (paidagōgeō; from παῖς (child) and ἄγω (lead)): literally, “to lead the child”.
Cohesive Curriculum, Unique Faculty
It has been the focus of faculty for several years to make the Curriculum highly cohesive. This is a key characteristic of our pedagogical plan for each student outcome. While we maintain traditional subject-specific courses, we are striving to unify them; connecting them so that students gain an awareness of the multi-discipline nature of learning. This also allows us incorporate various aspects of a given student outcome strategically within the Curriculum.
Achieving our goals can only be accomplished with the full cooperation of the entire program faculty and staff.
The Institute is fortunate to have such dedicated and talented educators who truly put the needs of the students above all else. The small size and focused dedication to undergraduate education uniquely positions the Institute’s faculty to achieve high standards.
Beau Wickboldt, one of the founders of the Institute provided the following advice to students:
“Find the gift within you. Sharpen, hone, and train it. And, then go use it. Do!”
Institute Pedagogical Plan
In support of the Institute’s mission, our focus is to prepare students to solve problems that affect society. Students are prepared to tackle these complex challenges because our program of study includes both the technical fundamentals as well as the breadth of the liberal arts, combined with hands-on applications, oral and written communication practice, and faculty and staff who are dedicated to providing the best education possible.
We believe students receive a well-balanced broad education that provides the necessary depth in traditional subjects. Both breadth and depth are required for solving complex problems.
II.a The Institute’s Core Curriculum
The Institute’s Core curriculum is an essential element of our pedagogical plan. The goals of the core support several of our student outcomes, but have additional outcomes as well.
The Core Curriculum is described as:
- The Institutes intellectual tradition is rooted in reasoned inquiry that crosses scholarly disciplines to engage and inform each of them;
- This tradition creates a framework in which great questions facing humankind can and should be addressed;
- Through the core curriculum at the Institute students learn to use and value the lenses of different disciplines, see connections among them, and in doing so acquire the skills, knowledge, and values necessary for them to recognize the importance of broad learning and regular reflection throughout their lives.
- The goals of the core serve its mission and are achieved through the learning outcomes, which are continuously assessed.
The faculty is committed to teaching students essential skills and values for learning and life. Writing, oral communication, critical thinking, information literacy, and the implications of diversity are core skills distributed throughout the core curriculum.
Students will thus have opportunities in their core courses to learn and refine their understanding and application of each of these skills.
There are five goals established for the Core:
- Goal I: Develop the foundational knowledge and skills necessary for informed inquiry, decision-making and communication.
- Goal II: Develop the knowledge and skills for acting ethically in everyday life.
- Goal III: Examine oneself, our place in the world, and in the lives of others.
- Goal IV: Critically examine the ideas and traditions of western civilization.
- Goal V: Learn to live and contribute in a diverse society and interdependent world.
Learning outcomes have been established for each of the Core’s goals and specific outcomes are described at relevant locations in this pedagogical plan.
II.b Strategic Continual Improvement
As part of regular assessment and subsequent evaluation of student outcomes, the e-campus program continually makes changes to improve student education. Beyond tactical changes, we have strategic goals for continual improvement.
Over the past several years, we have had two primary strategic goals: revise our curriculum to allow broader professional experiences, and develop a more cohesive curriculum to eradicate the stark boundaries between various subjects.
We have thoroughly reviewed our curriculum and revised it to allow greater. We have made significant strides towards a more integrated and cohesive curriculum; but work remains.
The following are ongoing goals and tasks of the program faculty:
- Develop cross-curricular modules to integrate data acquisition and instrumentation within our laboratories and lectures.
- Continue to improve and evaluate the online portfolios for students.
- Develop opportunities for students to have more “hands-on” experiences. The opportunities for students to “get their hands dirty” have diminished substantially over the past several years. This is a concern as students need to have good physical sense of the world. While this is not directly associated with any specific student outcome, it is still a concern to the faculty.
Goal V of the Institute’s Core curriculum:
Learn to live and contribute in a diverse society and interdependent world. This goal has the following learning outcomes.
The student will be able to:
- Recognize how culture, social factors, psychological factors, religious factors, and/or communication shape the way we view the world and identify differences between and within societies and other diverse groups of people;
- Recognize social, political, historical, economical, and/or religious factors contributing to cultural differences;
- Demonstrate an understanding of religious, political, historical, and/or social concepts necessary to be informed and engaged citizens living in an increasingly interdependent world.
The program faculty reviewed our the typical Sustainability Curriculum and identified where and how design should be taught. We recognized that Sustainable Design indeed already has design elements throughout the curriculum but needed approach design in a more systematic manner.
Towards that end, we developed the following pedagogical plan for Student Outcomes.
Design is inherent in Permaculture – yet it can be difficult to precisely define or describe what “Permaculture design” actually is.
Permaculture Design can be defined as follows:
Permaculture design is the process of devising a system, component, or process to meet desired needs. It is a decision-making process (often iterative), in which the basic sciences, mathematics, and the engineering sciences are applied to convert resources optimally to meet these stated needs.
Elements of design and curricular components
Fundamental elements of the design process include:
- the establishment of objectives and criteria;
The design component of a curriculum should include the following features:
- development of student creativity;
- use of open-ended problems;
- development and use of modern design theory and methodology;
- formulation of design problem statements and specification;
- consideration of alternative solutions;
- feasibility considerations;
- production processes;
- concurrent engineering design;
- detailed system description.
In order to properly teach design, students must be involved with design throughout all of their curriculum. While few courses in the Permaculture Design curriculum are specifically “design courses”, all Permaculture courses develop various aspects of student’s ability to design.
The culminating design experience is the capstone design course sequence.
What are steps in “the design process”?
Permaculture projects may be broken into several distinct phases – although in reality, the phases overlap or may be different altogether. Design is rarely a linear process – it is iterative in nature. Each design project is unique – there is no one process to follow for design.
In general, the design process can be described as:
Define the problem (which includes establishing objectives and criteria, and developing a plan), synthesize math, science and engineering knowledge to develop alternatives, evaluate the alternatives (through testing, analysis, literature search, etc.) and synthesize knowledge to select the best alternative.
This process starts with conceptual design and proceeds to ever-more refined details until the finished product or design has been completed.