Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title 'BioActive': An Application to Support the Course Energy from Biomass
Originator Mike Tribe
Department School of Chemistry, Physics & Environmental Science, University of Sussex, UK
Tel. +44(0)1273 678389
Fax. +44(0)1273 677196

Final year students taking Environmental Science at Sussex have the opportunity through the Energy from Biomass course to examine the feasibility, both practically and economically, of using a variety of renewable biological energy sources as alternatives or additions to the sources of fuel that are currently used. An important focus of the course is the introduction and completion of two course assignments. The two assignments are entitled 'Energising an Indian village' and 'Ethanol - is it the fuel of the future?' These modules were developed for final year undergraduates from original ideas written for the SATIS 16-19 (ASE Publications) and funding for their development was obtained from the Enterprise Initiative and the Teaching & Learning Development Fund at Sussex.

Whilst there is a general problem of providing sufficient support for students within a declining tutorial system as student numbers increase, the main aim in developing these two CAL modules was to support these assignments by developing more opportunities for interdependence in learning. Each module focuses on key issues, which are formatted in such a way so as to promote discussion between pairs of students at each workstation. Emphasis is placed on decision-making, retrieving information, and applying knowledge (often interdisciplinary) to the solution of real problems. Visual data in the form of photographs, tables, short simulations, bullet points of information and key references provide a basis for research. Students are encouraged to undertake further research from the information and key references provided; then in small teams (4-5 students) they are required to make oral presentations of some of their findings and recommendations; and finally each student must submit an individually produced report.

Monitoring and evaluation of the course by feedback from students and tutors over the past 5 years has led to revision and updating in some aspects of the content and design of the modules.


Morris, E.J & Tribe, M.A. (1996) Ch.12 Designing a computer-based learning application in the biological sciences. In 'Enabling Student Learning: Systems & Strategies' [Eds Wisker, G & Brown,S.] Kogan Paul Publishers.

Science and Technology in Society (SATIS) 16-19, units 20 & 81. ASE Publications.


Energy from biofuels
Interdependent study
Interdisciplinary work
Oral presentations
Report writing

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