CCOG for ESR 202 archive revision 201701

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Effective Term:
Winter 2017 through Summer 2024

Course Number:
ESR 202
Course Title:
Applied Environmental Studies: Prep for Problem Solving
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Provides experience collecting environmental data through fieldwork and laboratory analysis. Explores quantitative analysis of data using a variety of techniques. Emphasizes scientific report writing to communicate research findings. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description


Fieldwork is a professional competence in many areas of Environmental Studies. Standard field practices include measurements of abiotic and biotic components in a variety of environmental conditions and habitat types. Fieldwork includes use of all the senses to make observations in natural and built environments. Field training may include developing skills in site characterization, application of key terms and concepts, species identification, and measurement and data collection using appropriate equipment. Fieldwork may include inherent risks (uneven terrain, off-trail work with map & compass, variable weather, insects, environmental irritants, travel, stress, etc.).


To clarify the teaching of evolution and its place in the classroom, the Portland Community College Science Departments stand by the following statements about what is science and how the theory of evolution is the major organizing theory in the discipline of the biological sciences.

  1. Science is a fundamentally nondogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. In science, a theory is neither a guess, dogma, nor myth. The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation.
  2. The theory of evolution meets the criteria of a scientific theory. In contrast, creation "science" is neither self-examining nor investigatory. Creation "science" is not considered a legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F. 2d 1004).

Science (ESR) instructors of Portland Community College will teach the theory of evolution not as absolute truth but as the most widely accepted scientific theory on the diversity of life. We, the Biology Subject Area Curriculum Committee at Portland Community College, therefore stand with such organizations as the National Association of Biology Teachers in opposing the inclusion of pseudo-sciences in our science curricula.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Analyze relationships between human population trends, land use decisions, and watershed and ecosystem health.
  2. Employ problem-solving approaches using planning, conservation, and restoration strategies.
  3. Perform research using a variety of field and laboratory methods to collect environmental data.
  4. Access, interpret, and utilize environmental data from reliable sources.
  5. Analyze data using a variety of quantitative techniques including graphing, performing statistical tests, and calculating common indices.
  6. Write science-based technical reports to communicate research findings.

Course Activities and Design

Course Activities and Design:

  1. Lectures
  2. Applied-problem solving activities in class may include discussing case studies, computer-based graphing activities and statistical analysis and accessing online data.
  3. Research performed in small groups during field trips and labs
  4. Field trips with guest speakers on topics such as stream restoration and water quality.
  5. Watershed or ecosystem analysis project leading to a final paper that reports research findings including background information from the literature, data collection, analysis and graphical presentation of results, as well as suggestions for improving watershed or ecosystem health.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment Tasks:

  1. Applied-problem solving activities in class may include case studies, graphing activities and discussion.
  2. Field and lab data sheets completed during lab period.
  3. Midterm and final exams with a variety of question types including: Key term matching, short-answer, interpreting graphs and figures, creating graphs and figures, essays.
  4. Watershed or ecosystem analysis paper written in the style of a professional scientific report.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Theme: Land use decisions and watershed characteristics affect water quality, habitat connectivity and ecosystem services. Research and analysis of current watershed and/or ecosystem conditions are essential to developing approaches to solve environmental problems.

Concepts and Issues:

  1. Land use in Oregon
  2. Biogeochemical cycles
  3. Vegetation, soils, ecosystem characteristics
  4. Mapping concepts
  5. Water quality
  6. Physical characteristics of streams
  7. Benthic invertebrates or other wildlife indicators
  8. Human impacts
  9. Field sampling
  10. Lab analysis
  11. Data analysis


  1. Read and interpret scientific reports
  2. Write clearly in the scientific style
  3. Use basic math and statistics appropriately
  4. Apply scientific method to research questions
  5. Perform field and lab techniques safely
  6. Perform water quality analysis
  7. Use taxonomic keys to identify species
  8. Analyze environmental data (e.g., hydrologic information, topographic maps)
  9. Locate and access reliable information
  10. Use spreadsheets for data analyses and graph creation
  11. Make arguments based on evidence
  12. Collaborate with peers -- Work effectively in groups
  13. Present conclusions logically and make recommendations