New to teaching EcoTypes? It's been used for three years now in roughly 50 institutions across the U.S., and we're starting to learn what works best. Below are some ideas, structured according to a key limitation: how much time you have for EcoTypes. And feel free to leave comments at bottom on what did/didn't work for you, so that we can help each other out.
Note that all teaching scenarios below are based on a practical question: how much time you have for EcoTypes. Note also that all scenarios refer to the Step by Step Guide, basically involving possible shortcuts or alternative paths; you can click any title in the guide to go directly to that resource.
Summer 2019 update: we now offer a possible shortcut to some of the most important concepts, skills, and lessons students can learn via the quick themes survey. Give it a try, followed by discussion of themes and related key questions, and let us know how it works for you! We'll incorporate recommendations into the below once we get some input.
If you have basically no time but want to see if there are starter possibilities for EcoTypes, consider these two options, both focusing on just one EcoTypes axis:
- Survey and one axis. Have your students take the online survey (~15 minutes) at least 24 hours in advance, ideally after browsing the FAQ. They will receive a customized report via email within one day; tell them to bring it to class in digital or print format. Then choose any one of the fourteen EcoTypes axes and have students share and discuss survey results for that axis. (You may prepare to facilitate the discussion by reading the axis page, in particular the Deep Dive section.) For extra credit, students may analyze their responses to other axes based on their report and the axis pages.
- One axis read and discuss. Have your students read any one EcoTypes axis in advance, ideally in conjunction with a related course lecture or reading. In contrast to the above option, the intent here would be less to understand their own ideas (i.e., they wouldn't complete the survey) and more to appreciate the general significance of the axis, e.g., in the context of a current environmental issue. (If you had more time, you could utilize one of the application topics to do this.) For extra credit or for an exam, students could be assigned additional axes and asked to apply them to a current environmental issue.
One 60 minute (or longer) class session gives you enough time to students to dip their toes into EcoTypes and start to build skills in analyzing environmental ideas. Here are two options for starters:
- Survey and all axes. Do steps 1a, 1b, and 1c here (note you can go to each step by clicking on its title). Students will get a background on EcoTypes, complete the survey (at least 24 hours prior to class), and receive a customize report via email, then they can compare and discuss their axis results with fellow students, using the EcoTypes axis pages as resources. To expedite time, you may want to assign different axes to different small groups and have them report back on their discussion. What you won't get with this option are steps 2a and on, covering axis patterns/themes and applications to environmental topics and engagement, but you could consider assigning some of these resources as extra credit. One other option to consider would be to have students complete the survey at least one week prior to the class session, then you can request to receive your institution's data to discuss in class (e.g., in comparison with individual or national results).
- Survey and a few axes. The above could be ambitious for one class session. As a variant, do steps 1a and 1b as above, then focus on just a few select axes. As one possibility: if you receive your institution's data in advance, you could analyze it to identify key axes, e.g., those for which there is the most variance (highest standard deviation), suggesting the areas of biggest disagreement among your students. This empirical information may motivate your students to interact with each other to try and discover the reasons for their (relative) disagreement. Possibly pairing high-variance with low-variance axes could provide a way for your students to further explore areas of agreement, which themselves are as important to recognize (given the relative homogeneity of many undergraduate environmental courses) as disagreement.
- Survey and one theme. Do steps 1a and 1b as above, but then have students focus on one of the three EcoTypes themes and related axes for discussion of that theme only. Here your students get to dip their toes into an EcoTypes summary theme as well as several related axes, in order to consider how axes relate to each other. You may want them to focus on their axis scores for that theme, to see if their personal scores correlated as well as the overall model that resulted in these themes. If you get time, have students do step 2a and sketch out how they think the EcoTypes axes (of 2017-18) may relate. You may also want to review with them the empirical process by which themes were derived (step 2b here).
- Survey and one topic. Do steps 1a and 1b as above, but then have students read an assigned application topic and do a Take Sides debate drawing on the Related Axes section and the three Take Sides positions. Here the objective would be less to understand all axes, as summarized above, and more to appreciate how differing ideas related to these axes may result in differing takes on major environmental topics; see here for a sheet summarizing the main axes and themes related to each topic. You may want to randomly assign a Take Sides position to each student in advance, so they don't just choose the one they prefer and to even up groups. (The debate could take place in small groups, including representatives from each position.) You may also wish to tell students to judge the winning side based on how clearly its arguments build on one or more EcoTypes axes.
If you have more than one class session available, you may first wish to decide whether you'd like to do EcoTypes all at one (e.g., during one week) or at different times (e.g., at the beginning and end of the term). The below options assume different time allocations:
- Extended class section. If you have, say, two continuous weeks, you should be able to get through much of the Step by Step Guide, including steps 1 (overview/survey), 2 (patterns/themes), and 3 (topics/engagement applications); remember you can click on each title to go to that step. Each of these steps adds significant content and skills, so you should decide how to optimize the learning process for your students. Moving beyond step 1 (about all one can do with only one class session), however, will provide considerable added value in helping students relate ideas to other ideas (via axis patterns/themes in step 2), and apply ideas to real-world topics and engagement across different (step 3—see sheet summarizing main axes and themes in each topic here).
- Beginning/end of class comparison. If, instead, you have time toward the beginning and end of your course, you may wish to do a before/after survey with students so that they (and you!) can gauge whether their ideas have changed. Students can, of course, do this by simply comparing their two customized email reports, but you would also typically want to request your institutional data so that you can do your own before/after analysis. It may be especially useful to have students predict, prior to the final survey, which axes or themes may change the most overall for the class, based on material and discussions to date.
- Other options. There are many other options, depending on your particular interests and needs. For instance, you may wish to jump ahead on the Step by Step Guide, essentially going from steps 1a/1b to, say, 2a/2b or directly to 3a or 3b. It may, however, be important to pretest your sequence with a small group of students for input (and extra credit for them!) to make sure it doesn't skip too many important learning steps.
If you are able to devote potentially unlimited time to EcoTypes, then an elaborated version of the Step by Step Guide may be just right! Here are a few quick suggestions:
- Spend plenty of time on 1c to go into depth on many or all of the fourteen EcoTypes axes.
- Pause on 2a and 2b so that students build their own patterns connecting axes, and explore more deeply the EcoTypes themes that connect axes based on 2017-18 empirical results.
- Consider using all six environmental topics in 3a to structure course units. Note that we have tried to evenly allocate EcoTypes axes and themes across all topics: see here for a GoogleSheet with this information, which may be helpful as you use topics to ground student understandings of EcoTypes axes and themes.
- Finally, give students practical projects for 3b (engagement across difference) to apply all the above, and have them report back to the rest of the class on their results and reflections.