TABLE 2.

Pretest and posttest questions and scoring rubric.

Question 1. What does the word “interdisciplinary” mean to you? Answer in one to five sentences.
ScoreScore explanation
1 (novice)The answer is brief, vague, and may use the term to define the term, or the student may not know what the term means. Example: “It means using many disciplines.”
2The answer is clear and correct, but brief and general. Example: “It means to approach a problem from many different perspectives.”
3The answer is clear, correct, and provides some specific insights about the term. Example: “Interdisciplinary means to use the tools and ways of thinking from many different fields of study to explore or solve a problem.”
4 (expert)The answer is clear, correct, and shows understanding of the potential for synthesis and creativity in interdisciplinary situations.
Example: “Interdisciplinary means to combine tools and ways of thinking from many different fields of study to explore or solve a problem and possibly create new ideas, products, or solutions that arise from the synthesis of diverse perspectives.”
Question 2. Why is an interdisciplinary approach important for solving environmental problems? Answer in one to five sentences.
ScoreScore explanation
1 (novice)The answer is brief, vague, and does not provide a strong argument for using an interdisciplinary approach. The answer may just restate the prompt. Example: “You need different approaches to solve environmental problems.”
2The answer is brief, but provides one reasonable justification for using an interdisciplinary approach. Example: “Environmental problems are multi-faceted so diverse tools and approaches are needed to develop solutions.”
3The answer provides one reasonable and detailed justification for using an interdisciplinary approach. Example: “Environmental problems are multi-faceted so diverse tools and approaches are needed to appropriately address the different components of the problem. A single discipline may not recognize and be ready to address all the components.”
4 (expert)The answer provides more than one reasonable and detailed justification for using an interdisciplinary approach, or provides examples of how different disciplines might contribute. Example: “Environmental problems are multi-faceted so diverse tools and approaches are needed to appropriately address the different components of the problem. A single discipline may not recognize and be ready to address all the components. Also, environmental problems involve many stakeholders and a single disciplinary approach may not address the needs of all the stakeholders.”
Question 3. How can/does your major discipline(s) contribute to solving the problem of climate change? Answer in one to five sentences.
ScoreScore explanation
1 (novice)The answer is brief, vague, and does not provide a strong case for the possible contributions of the student’s discipline, or denies that the discipline relates to climate change. Example: “The skills of an English major could be used to communicate better about climate change.”
2The answer is brief, but provides a reasonable case for the possible contributions of the student’s discipline. This score is also appropriate for double majors that see connections with climate change for one major but not the other. Example: “Communicating science to the public is necessary for broad understanding of climate change and the skills of an English major could facilitate this communication.”
3The answer provides a detailed, reasonable case for the possible contributions of the student’s discipline, with at least two concrete examples.
Example: “Communicating science to the public is necessary for broad understanding of climate change and the skills of an English major could facilitate this communication through newspaper articles and briefs for policy makers.”
4 (expert)The answer provides a detailed, reasonable, and sophisticated case for the possible contributions of the student’s discipline, with at least two arguments and two specific examples. Example: “Communicating science to the public is necessary for broad understanding of climate change and the skills of an English major could facilitate this communication through newspaper articles and briefs for policy makers. Scientists may also need help editing their work to make it more understandable to the public and to fellow scientists and the skills of an English major could help here as well.”
Question 4. Explain, in your own words, the ecological interactions and processes involved in eutrophication.
ScoreScore explanation
1 (novice)The student does not know what eutrophication is.
2The student can define eutrophication, but the majority of ecological interactions are not correctly explained or not mentioned.
3The student can define eutrophication, and correctly explains the majority of interactions, but has some omissions or errors. Some discussion of hypoxia (low oxygen) must be included to earn this score.
4 (expert)The student can define eutrophication and gives a complete and correct description of the ecological interactions. The roles of fertilizer run-off, algae blooms, and aquatic decomposers and hypoxia must be correctly explained to earn this score.
Question 5. (Posttest only) Do you feel this assignment improved your understanding of eutrophication and/or your capacity to think from an interdisciplinary perspective? Provide any comments or feedback on the assignment you wish to.
Open response – not scored formally