In the FYRES course, students learn by doing—a teaching-learning method that science educators refer to as active learning, experiential learning or inquiry-based learning. At the heart of the course are the dune research experiences, including the short studies, assignments and the major research project.
The course structure promotes the research experiences. A five-hour lab period each week provides the time for research activities. For many of the lab periods, the time will be used to travel to dune sites, complete several hours of research, and travel back to campus. Three fifty-minute class periods during the week provide the time for class-based activities supporting the research activities: classes about dunes and the nature of science, presentations by Michigan dune experts, discussions, videos, and more. Readings from primary sources and a textbook will also provide information about dunes and science. And, yes, there will be a midterm test and a final exam to encourage (and measure) student learning of course material!
In the FYRES course, students will learn about dunes, about the natural world, about science, about the Christian calling in the natural world, and much more. Students will also learn about themselves as they experience doing science. Some students may decide to pursue majors or careers in the sciences. Other students may receive clarification or confirmation that they are called to careers other than science. All students will leave the course with skills and understanding that provide an excellent foundation for future activities at Calvin College and beyond such as:
• how to learn effectively in other courses
• good written and oral communication skills
• research skills
• teamwork experience
• portfolio/resume items of co-authorship on a research report and conference presentation.
These and other learning outcomes will make FYRES students competitive for a variety of subsequent opportunities such as paid summer research positions, graduate school acceptances, career employment, etc.