This assignment is for the Ling 123 course. This is a GE course under Area R, and it is a large course (about 10 sections, max 25 students in each section) taught by multiple instructors.
The assignment is designed as a term project. With one or two preparatory class meetings, this two-part project (three-part including the learning) could be completed in 4-5 weeks, culminating in group presentations. The assignment would be best given toward the end of the semester as a capstone project after students have gained in-depth knowledge on mechanisms and adaptive functions of animal communication systems and the class has firmly established an environment of a learning community. In terms of the skill set, it only requires the basic research, writing, and communication skills that have been learned in lower division courses.
The entire process of the project is described in the three separate documents as follows: (1) General Instructions, (2) Review Paper, and (3) Group Presentation. As such, the text below is partitioned into three sections, each of which corresponds to one of the three documents.
Linguistics 123 “Sound and Communication”
Linguistics and Language Development
Other Communication | Other Linguistics | Sustainability
Explain how your assignment addresses Sustainable Futures.
This assignment is designed for Ling 123: Sound and Communication course, which examines different types of animal communication systems and ways that communication helps animals to survive and reproduce. By examining how environmental destruction caused by human activities negatively impacts animal communication and seeking ways to undo such harms, this assignment gives students the opportunity to explore actionable steps towards sustainable futures where humans and other organisms would coexist in mutually beneficial ecosystems. In the first stage of the assignment, students will examine a range of animal communication systems, thereby appreciating the diversity of communication signals (e.g. sound, chemical or tactile signals) as well as the adaptive function of communication (e.g. monkey alarm calls for predator avoidance or bird song for mating). In the next stage, students will learn from research how the climate crisis in the form of environmental destruction has compromised animal’s ability to communicate. Students are required to collect data that show clear evidence of the negative impact of human activities on animal habitats and survival, and how some animals are adapting to these threats by changing their communication and behavior. The goal of this part of the assignment is to develop awareness on how human activities are directly responsible for environmental damage, and also to recognize that in some cases that damage may be irreparable. This assignment helps students to think critically about the consequences of human caused environmental destruction on animal species and explore ways to reduce the harm through proper steps that can be taken at present to sustain natural habitat for wildlife, which is necessary for our harmony with nature.
Explain how your assignment is robust, innovative, or active engagement of students.
Our assignment is robust in that it helps students achieve multiple learning outcomes such as becoming able to conduct research, write a research report, collaborate with classmates and deliver an effective oral presentation using slides. In the first step, students will study scholarly sources to learn key concepts. Students will then work as a group to collect scientific information through research. This teamwork component allows students to exchange ideas and feedback and support and learn from each other. In the second step, students will work individually to write a report of scientific information from their research. This will hone students’ ability to understand, analyze and synthesize information with course topics. In line with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, students can choose the best mode of information source for their research such as an article, video, or live event. In the third step, students will engage in group work, thereby sharpening collaborative skills as they develop a presentation to the class. It will also help students develop skills for oral communication and presenting scientific information in an accessible way for the audience. Students are required to use slides for the presentation and create them using UDL principles. This assignment is robust as it has many strengths: It helps students develop multiple skills, and it fosters active engagement both individually and collaboratively to complete all tasks. The guidelines are written in clear language and contain several examples to adequately scaffold the project for students. The specific tasks will be assessed through clear grading rubrics. Further, The project can be adapted to in-person classes and online (synchronous and asynchronous) courses.
Explain how your assignment might be used outside your own discipline.
While this specific assignment examines the impact of environmental destruction on animal communication, it can be easily modified and adapted to different courses. For example, it may be modified to examine the effects of environmental damage on other aspects of animal behaviors (e.g., reproductive behavior, securing food resources) or impact on other organisms such as insects, plant species, and human beings. The overarching theme of this assignment can also be interpreted as the negative impact of activities of powerful entities on minority or subordinate groups. Then the impact may be measured in a variety of domains such as political, economical, social, and cultural and in an international and/or national scale. Therefore, our assignment can be used in disciplines such as history, political science, economy, anthropology, ethnic studies to name just a few to examine the hegemonic effects of powerful groups and how that may lead to adaptation, erosion or loss in minority nations, modes of subsistence, autonomy, cultures, languages, identities, spirituality, and more. The three step learning process of this assignment, involving both individual and group work and demonstrating both written and oral communication skills, can easily be adapted to any course in any discipline.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
Kataoka, Reiko, and Tridha Chatterjee. "Animal Communication and Sustainability Project." Sustainable Futures, 2021. doi:10.31979/SF.2021.002.