May 7, 2010

The most important things

I hate to give tests. But, it is that time of year. So, for a portion of my Wildlife Ecology and Management course's final exam (take-home), I asked students to name something they learned this semester that they felt was critically important to wildlife management. And, they had to provide a citation to prove that it was important (a book, magazine article, journal article, or newspaper that had discussed the issue).

So, after 15 weeks of lectures, projects, a field trip (Chris Rank's photo above of our trip to the Platte River), and lots of discussions, it came down to the list below. Here is what my students felt were the most important topics we covered (numbers indicate how many students listed that topic):

Structured management decision-making and use of monitoring

to make decisions (7)

Farm Bill’s relevance to habitat management (6)
Invasive species management (4)
Importance of stakeholders to the decision-making process (3)
Harvest management is an important part of managing wildlife (3)
Economics affects wildlife management (2)
Damage management: over-populated species (2)
Assessing genetic diversity for threatened species (2)
When managing wildlife, you must also manage people (2)
Platte River/Sandhill crane habitat restoration and management (2)
Ecotourism may be a way to promotion conservation (2)
Wildlife need corridors for movement (1)
Politicians are critical to managing wildlife (1)
The complicated ethics of hunting (1)
Snow affects wildlife (1)
History is important to understanding our current management (1)
Species management usually means community management (1)

My course has gone through some fairly radical re-design in the past 5-6 years. So, I found the list to be interesting. I added a section on structured decision-making (including a discussion about stakeholders) to the course this year. That was the #1 response: glad that was successful.

I added a Farm Bill section to the course 4-5 years ago. That was #2...I think most students have not thought about the political process and how our federal programs influence state-wide habitat in states with lots of private land.

Some made me chuckle. Snow? I thought everyone was asleep when I covered that. And, I know that none of my lectures mentioned 'habitat corridors'. But, we had many student projects during the semester, and it is good to see that students picked up information on their own! A reminder that the professor is not the only source of information.

It is always good to be reminded that every student takes away something different from a course. Most of the students' comments and justifications reminded me why I enjoy teaching. It's always a rush for me when little nuggets of information take root and sprout as ideas in students.

No comments:

Post a Comment