Course Syllabus

DCP 3200 > Fall 2022


Methods of Inquiry for Sustainability & the Built Environment

Dr. Ann Wilkie shows SBE students research underway in her BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology (BEST) Lab in the Soil and Water Sciences Department at the University of Florida (2016-09-06).

Dr. Ann Wilkie shows SBE students research underway in her BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology (BEST) Lab in the Soil and Water Sciences Department at the University of Florida. (Image with permission: Hal S. Knowles, III, University of Florida)



“If today’s students want to compete in this global society, they must be proficient communicators, creators, critical thinkers, and collaborators (the “Four Cs”).” – National Education Association (NEA)



Students are encouraged to employ critical thinking and to rely on data and verifiable sources to interrogate all assigned readings and subject matter in this course as a way of determining whether they agree with their classmates and/or their instructor. No lesson is intended to espouse, promote, advance, inculcate, or compel a particular feeling, perception, perspective, or belief. Your attention and intention are yours alone ... so own them.







Hal Knowles, Ph.D.

Instructional Assistant Professor  |  SBE + URP

Canvas (preferred) or (alternative) |  352-294-6781 

Office Hours  |  Mondays 12:50 - 13:40  |  ARCH 150 & Zoom (or by appt.)





  • DCP 3200 > Fall 2022
  • Class 12246 > Section 1578
  • Mondays > Period 5 > 11:45 - 12:35
  • Wednesdays > Period 4 - 5 > 10:40 - 12:35
  • 100% On Campus > RNK 0215
  • BCN 1582 (or) IDS 2154 (or) another course approved in the topic area
  • ~ $40 - 60 textbooks
  • ~ $0 materials & supplies
  • ~ $0 - 10 incidentals






Course Summary

A gateway course for the DCP Program in Sustainability and the Built Environment (SBE) exploring career pathways, critical thinking strategies, and the breadth of methods of inquiry (the process of asking and then answering questions) commonly used by planners, designers and builders, as well as those who study all environments along the natural-to-urban transect


Course Overview & Purpose

This course summarizes the forms, functions, frameworks, and scholarly opportunities underpinning the SBE academic journey from matriculation to graduation and careers beyond. Foci include the SBE culture and curricula, the critical thinking process, the scientific method, and research design, with an emphasis on approaches pertinent to SBE allied professions. Students will learn to evaluate and rebut claims, develop a project management strategy, design a research protocol, gather and analyze data, and communicate with diverse stakeholders in a student-centered approach.


Dr. Ann Wilkie shows SBE students research underway in her BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology (BEST) Lab in the Soil and Water Sciences Department at the University of Florida (2016-09-06).

The Foundation for Critical Thinking frames eight elements of thought along a wheel of reason. (Source:



Course Goals

  • Discover and delineate a personally tailored pathway for SBE specialization, coursework, and professional development; 
  • Learn and apply the elements of thought from the wheel of reason to evaluate claims within your field of interest; 
  • Utilize critical thinking strategies and research design methods to examine contemporary issues in sustainability and the built environment; 
  • Evaluate and develop personal philosophies of science; 
  • Explore data collection, analysis methods, and writing strategies most applicable to different types of research questions; and 
  • Conceptualize and develop a problem statement and a proposal for a research project (e.g., SBE Capstone). 


Student Learning Objectives

During the semester, students will be…

  • Distinguishing sustainability and the built environment from other disciplines; 
  • Creating an individually targeted academic mission, vision, goals, and objectives for SBE Majors and Minors; 
  • Differentiating ethics, morality, and law; 
  • Perceiving and mitigating cognitive biases and logical fallacies; 
  • Better identifying “good” and “bad” science; 
  • Conducting research, curating resources, and communicating decision-support information; 
  • Formulating and delivering higher quality verbal and written arguments; 
  • Demonstrating an ability to learn from other fields; and 
  • Interacting effectively as a part of a team exploring important issues. 





Required Text(s) to Buy

  • Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Fifth edition. Los Angeles: Sage. 304 pp. 


In addition to the required text(s), various supplemental, free publications identified for class discussion and/or assignments may be supplied via the UF Canvas e-Learning portal (



The required and optional technologies for this course are as follows:

  • A portable computing device (e.g., tablet, laptop) for in-class and at-home work


Should you encounter a content issue with this Canvas course shell, please inform the instructor. All other technical issues with the hardware and software you may use for this course should be directed to the UF Information Technology Computing Help Desk.



Beyond the required textbook(s), minor, out-of-pocket student incidental expenses may include those associated with personal mobile computing and file storage/transfer device(s) or web-based services to research, present, and share information in class.





For students who plan to stay in the course, please visit the Course Wayfinding page to learn about the your path, including the course structure, expectations, and preparation actions.

 CM.00 > Start Here > Course Wayfinding



General course module main topics and sub-topics are summarized below. Official weekly readings, assignments, and course content will be posted within Canvas and are subject to change.


 Course Module > CM.01 > CTE > Critical Thinking & Ethics

  • CTE.01 > Course & SBE Program Overview 
  • CTE.02 > Elements of Thought 
  • CTE.03 > Ethics in Sustainability Research 
  • CTE.04 > Thinking Your Way to Work


 Course Module > CM.02 > CA > Context & Approaches

  • CA.01 > Selection of Research Approaches 
  • CA.02 > Review of the Literature 
  • CA.03 > The Use of Theory 
  • CA.04 > Writing Strategies 


 Course Module > CM.03 > RD > Research Design

  • RD.01 > Abstracts & Introductions 
  • RD.02 > Purpose Statements 
  • RD.03 > Research Questions & Hypotheses 


 Course Module > CM.04 > RM > Research Methods 

  • RM.01 > Quantitative Methods 
  • RM.02 > Qualitative Methods 
  • RM.03 > Mixed Methods 


Informational Resources



Assignment details, deliverables, due dates, and grades will be published on Canvas and may be subject to change. Grades are generally based on 1,000 points over the course of the semester. See the syllabus page "Summary" (at the bottom of this page) and the "Assignments" tab (left sidebar menu) for the most current information.


Attendance & Punctuality (AP) @ 100 Points (10%)

  • Required


Discussion Posts (DP) @ 300 Points (30%)

  • Readings, Discussions, & Class Activities (15 @ 20 points/each)
    • DP > Weekly & Module-Based


Research Proposal (RP) @ 240 Points (24%)

  • Individual (@ 40 points/each + 80 points/RP.06)
    • RP.01 > Research Ideas 
    • RP.02 > Literature Review 
    • RP.03 > Research Questions & Designs 
    • RP.04 > Research Materials & Methods 
    • RP.05 > Proposal Pitch
    • RP.06 > Final Proposal Submission 


Student Projects (SP) @ 160 Points (16%)

  • Individual and Group (@ 40 points/each)
    • SP.01 > FiLcHeRS Assessment
    • SP.02 > IRB-02 Online Training
    • SP.03 > Professional Profile
    • SP.04 > Academic Plan of Study


Quizzes (Q) @ 200 Points (20%)

  • Individual and Group (@ 40 points/each)
    • Q.01 > CTE > Critical Thinking & Ethics
    • Q.02 > CA > Context & Approaches
    • Q.03 > RD & RM > Research Design & Research Methods
    • Q.04 >  SBE > Capstone Presentation Reflection


Grades are based on evidence that students have completed assigned readings, participated actively in all class discussions and activities, completed writing and presentation assignments, and completed both in-class and outside-of-class activities throughout the semester. Completed tasks will be evaluated based on pertinence of content, critical thinking, creativity, and communication. Details and due dates for assignments are posted on Canvas. The University standard suggests students might expect to study outside of class for up to 3 times the weekly class contact periods (e.g., a 3-credit course might be 3 x 3 periods = 9 hours in Fall/Spring or 3 x 6 periods = 18 hours in Summer A).


Final student grades are rounded up on the hundredths units (i.e., a 92.95% becomes a 93.0%) and follow University of Florida grades and grading policies.





Teaching Philosophy & Expectations

I have experience in commercial construction management, planning, facilitation, systems ecology, and temporal and spatial analytics of land use change. I am passionate about the technologies and thought processes, policies, procedures, and decision-support strategies necessary to establish and sustain equitable, empowered, safe, healthy, and resilient communities adaptive to uncertainty.


  • Student expectations of instructor:
    • Enthusiasm for the course; engaging lectures and discussions; application of knowledge through classroom activities and fieldwork; organized and neat course materials; unbiased guidance; encouragement of critical thought; and reasonable availability to meet with students outside of class.
  • Instructor expectations of students:
    • Compassionate curiosity; positive attention and intention; willingness to learn with open heart, open mind, and open will; consistent attendance; punctual arrival; active participation in our class discussions and activities; advance reading of class content; on-time completion and submission of assignments; proper citation management; adherence to proper netiquette and all University rules and regulations.



Attendance is mandatory and participation is graded based on each class period (i.e., missing a multi-period day of class will count as multiple absences in accordance with the number of periods). Tardiness leads to point deductions from that class session.

Students may miss up to the equivalent number of class periods as the course credits (e.g., 3 credits = 3 periods @ 50 minutes/each in Spring/Fall & 2 periods @ 75 minutes/each in Summer A) without penalty and with no need for an excuse. Beyond those “waived” absences, students must provide a valid, and properly documented, excuse. Otherwise, unexcused points will be deducted proportional to the total number of periods where attendance was taken. Requirements for class attendance and make-up exams, assignments, and other work in this course are consistent with University policies as found at the following link.



As future sustainability professionals in training, you are preparing for potential future meetings and collaboration. Thus, students are encouraged to participate in-person and/or online with dress and demeanor befitting a informal workplace. 



Online Class Recording Privacy

Our class sessions may be audio and/or visually recorded for students in the class to refer back and for enrolled students who are unable to attend live. Students who participate with their camera engaged or utilize a profile image are agreeing to have their video or image recorded.  If you are unwilling to consent to have your profile or video image recorded, be sure to keep your camera off and do not use a profile image. Likewise, students who un-mute during class and participate orally are agreeing to have their voices recorded. If you are not willing to consent to have your voice audio recorded during class, you will need to keep your mute button activated and communicate exclusively using the "chat" feature, which allows students to type questions and comments live. The chat comments get cloud archived alongside the video, audio, and machine learning transcripts for the convenience of all students to replay and review on demand.


What is Permissible

Beyond anything recorded and shared by the instructor, students are allowed to record video or audio of class lectures. However, the purposes for which these recordings may be used are strictly controlled. The only allowable purposes are as follows:

  1. For personal educational use;
  2. In connection with a complaint to the university; or
  3. As evidence in, or in preparation for, a criminal or civil proceeding.

All other purposes are prohibited. Specifically, students may not publish recorded lectures without the written consent of the instructor.


What Defines a Lecture

A “class lecture” is an educational presentation intended to inform or teach enrolled students about a particular subject, including any instructor-led discussions that form part of the presentation, and delivered by any instructor hired or appointed by the University, or by a guest instructor, as part of a University of Florida course. A class lecture does not include lab sessions, student presentations, clinical presentations such as patient history, academic exercises involving solely student participation, assessments (quizzes, tests, exams), field trips, private conversations between students in the class or between a student and the faculty or lecturer during a class session.


Publication Without Permission is Prohibited

Publication without permission of the instructor is prohibited. To “publish” means to share, transmit, circulate, distribute, or provide access to a recording, regardless of format or medium, to another person (or persons), including but not limited to another student within the same class section. Additionally, a recording, or transcript of a recording, is considered published if it is posted on or uploaded to, in whole or in part, any media platform, including but not limited to social media, book, magazine, newspaper, leaflet, or third party note/tutoring services. A student who publishes a recording without written consent may be subject to a civil cause of action instituted by a person injured by the publication and/or discipline under UF Regulation 4.040 Student Honor Code and Student Conduct Code.





Student Responsibilities

In 1995 the UF student body enacted an honor code and voluntarily committed itself to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. When students enroll at the university, they commit themselves to the standard drafted and enacted by students…”

As a student at the University of Florida, you have committed yourself to uphold the Honor Code, which includes the following responsibilities as delineated at


  • Academic Honesty
    • Preamble
    • The Honor Pledge
    • Student Responsibility
    • Faculty Responsibility
    • Administration Responsibility
  • Student Conduct Code
  • Alcohol and Drugs
    • What the University Community Can Do to Prevent Alcohol Abuse and Drug Abuse
  • Relations Between People and Groups
  • Service to Others
  • Standard of Ethical Conduct


It is assumed that you will complete all work independently in each course unless the instructor provides explicit permission for you to collaborate on course tasks (e.g. assignments, papers, quizzes, exams). Instructors reserve the right to use the TurnItIn app within Canvas to evaluate work originality. Plagiarism is a serious offense and will result in an honor code violation and potential failure of the course. Additionally, any use, access, or handling of technology (e.g., cell phone, smart watch) during an exam will result in an honor code violation and potential failure of the course.

Furthermore, as part of your obligation to uphold the Honor Code, you should report any condition that facilitates academic misconduct to appropriate personnel. It is your individual responsibility to know and comply with all university policies and procedures regarding academic integrity and the Student Honor Code. Violations of the Honor Code at the University of Florida will not be tolerated. Violations will be reported to the Dean of Students Office for consideration of disciplinary action. For more information regarding the Student Honor Code, please see:


Software Use

All faculty, staff and students of the university are required and expected to obey the laws and legal agreements governing software use. Failure to do so can lead to monetary damages and/or criminal penalties for the individual violator. As such violations are also against university policies and rules, disciplinary action will be taken as appropriate.


Course Evaluation

Students are expected to provide professional and respectful feedback on the quality of instruction in this course by completing course evaluations online via GatorEvals. Guidance on how to give feedback in a professional and respectful manner is available at Students will be notified when the evaluation period opens, and can complete evaluations through the email they receive from GatorEvals, in their Canvas course menu under GatorEvals, or via Summaries of course evaluation results are available to students at



Students with Disabilities

Students requesting accommodation for disabilities must first register with the Disability Resource Center (DRC). The DRC coordinates the needed accommodations of students with disabilities. This includes registering disabilities, recommending academic accommodations within the classroom, accessing special adaptive computer equipment, providing interpretation services and mediating faculty-student disability related issues.

Upon registering, the DRC will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the instructor when requesting accommodation. You must submit this documentation prior to submitting assignments or taking quizzes or exams. Accommodations are not retroactive, therefore, students should contact the office as soon as possible in the term for which they are seeking accommodations. The DRC may be contacted by visiting 001 Reid Hall, calling 352-392-8565, or visiting their website.


Netiquette – Communication Courtesy

All members of the class are expected to follow rules of common courtesy in all email messages, threaded discussions and chats. Please refer to these resources.


Religious Observances

Please inform the instructor of any religious holidays or other days of special religious significance that may interfere with your participation in this class so that appropriate accommodations can be made. For more information, please visit the Religious Holidays section of the UF Attendance Policies.


Special Consideration

The principle of equal treatment of all students is a fundamental guide in responding to requests for special consideration. No student shall be given an opportunity to improve a grade that is not made available to all members of the class. This policy is not intended to exclude reasonable accommodation of verified student disability or the completion of work missed due to religious observance, verified illness, or absence due to circumstances beyond your control. Reconsideration of subjective judgments of an individual student’s work will be done only if all students in the class can be and are given the same consideration.


Sexual & Gender-Based Harassment

Sexual and gender-based harassment is reprehensible and will not be tolerated by the University. It subverts our academic mission and threatens the careers, educational experience, and well-being of students, faculty, and staff. The University will not tolerate behavior between, nor among, members of this community that creates an unacceptable working environment.





Your safety, health, and wellbeing are important to our University community. Students experiencing crises or personal problems that interfere with their general well-being or academic performance are strongly encouraged to talk to the instructor and/or to utilize the University’s confidential counseling resources, available at no cost to currently enrolled students.


Safety, Health & Wellness Resources

  • Dean of Students Office, 202 Peabody Hall, 352-392- Among other services, the DSO assists students who are experiencing situations that compromises their ability to attend classes. This includes family emergencies and medical issues (including mental health crises).
  • GatorWell Health Promotion Services: For prevention services focused on optimal wellbeing, including Wellness Coaching for Academic Success, visit the GatorWell website or call 352-273-4450.
  • Sexual Assault Recovery Services (SARS), Student Health Care Center, 352-392-1161. Sexual assault counseling.
  • Student Health Care Center. Call 352-392-1161 for 24/7 health care information.
  • UF Health Shands Emergency Room / Trauma Center, 1515 SW Archer Road, Gainesville, FL 32608, 352-733-0111. For immediate medical care call or go to the emergency room.
  • U Matter, We Care, multiple locations, 352-392-1575. If you or someone you know is in distress, please contact or visit the website to refer or report a concern and a team member will reach out to the student in distress.
  • University Counseling & Wellness Center, 3190 Radio Rd., 392-1575. Personal and career counseling, as well as therapy for anxiety, stress and mental health issues.
  • University Police Department, 392-1111 (or 9-1-1 for emergencies).


Student Complaint Resources



"A growth mindset’s defining characteristic—the belief that intelligence is malleable—provides a powerful formula for improving student outcomes. Students who believe that they can get smarter and that effort makes them smarter will put in the effort that leads to higher achievement." - American University School of Education

Change is the only constant. Within the SBE Program, we focus on a triple-E approach to intrapersonal and interpersonal growth and development. That is, we support our students in placing their attention and intention on effort, earnestness, and equanimity. In the lab of life, lessons are best learned when seeing failure as feedback for your future fitness and adaptability in uncertainty. Your instructor encourages you to foster a growth mindset and to leverage the resources available to help you thrive.


Academic & Professional Development Resources




Below is a timeline of class sessions and assignment due dates. This summary is listed in chronological order and provides direct links to each of them. As such, it offers a great snapshot of the course schedule for the entire semester. You can also click on the "Calendar" menu button on the left sidebar in Canvas and then filter to show only items related to this course.


Course Summary:

Date Details Due