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Applying the process of backward design in revising an environmental science program

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The purpose of this article is to share our model of a successful curriculum reform process and provide an overview so that it can be replicated by other programs. The process of backward design is commonly used for course design, and here we apply this framework to a program-level revision of student learning outcomes, curriculum, and assessment. Graduates from our Environmental Science program are expected to demonstrate an understanding of the appropriate academic content, to be able to conduct research and develop professional behaviors and dispositions. Our revised program now has clear, assessable student learning outcomes, a set of coursework that is well aligned with these outcomes, and planned assessment that will allow us to evaluate our students and our program. This program revision has been a long, time-consuming process that has been facilitated by the cooperative nature and dedication of the individuals on the Environmental Science committee and by support structures at our institution. We will discuss the methods used by our program to bring about these changes and also the challenges we faced.

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Correspondence to Caralyn B. Zehnder.

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Zehnder, C.B., Manoylov, K., Mutiti, C. et al. Applying the process of backward design in revising an environmental science program. J Environ Stud Sci 7, 264–273 (2017).

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