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Green Teaching

Certification Criteria

If you want to find out whether you would qualify for a Green Teaching Certificate, you can download a trial questionnaire that will give you an instant score once completed. Please note that this score will not be submitted, and that if you want to apply for a certificate, you will have to go through the formal certification process.

Download the Trial Questionnaire here!

The criteria that you are going to be asked about are listed below.

Reducing Paper Use | Saving Energy & Reducing Emissions | Other Measures

Reducing Paper Use:

  • Send your students your syllabus electronically and post it on Blackboard rather than printing copies for your students (5 points)
  • If you were to print a handout or syllabus, print on recycled paper, and… (1) print double-sided; or (2) print double-sided and on recycled paper (1-2 points)
  • Request that students read the Academic Integrity Code online rather than printing it out (1 point)
  • If you were to assign student poster presentations, allow students to project these onto a screen, rather than printing posters (1 point)
  • Allow students to electronically prove absences or external event participation (e.g. allow students to email you a photo or scan of doctor's notes, and/or use Twitter/Instagram instead of paper to demonstrate participation in events on and off campus) (1 point)
  • Encourage students to do all peer-reviewing and drafting of papers and assignments online (e.g. by using Google Docs or track changes in Word) (1 point)
  • Have your students submit their assignments and papers online; grade them electronically, and return them electronically… (2) …some of the time; or (5) …most of the time (2-5 points)
  • If you were to let students hand in hard-copies of their work, require double-sided printing, and allow single spacing and reduced margins (2 points)
  • If you were to give quizzes or tests, use online quizzes or interactive polling/quizzing using cell phones or laptops, rather than giving quizzes on paper… (1) …some of the time; or (2) …most of the time (1-2 points)
  • If you were to give in-class exams, have your students type their exams in a computer lab, or project the exam questions on a screen and let students answer them electronically… … (1) …some of the time; or (2) …most of the time (1-2 points)
  • Accept only electronic versions of all papers, tests and assignments, and only distribute electronic handouts and readings (i.e. teach entirely without using paper) (3 additional bonus points) (3 points)
  • If you were to use paper for classroom activities, use scrap paper (1 point)
  • If you were to post your PowerPoint presentations online, save the files with six slides per page and eliminate graphics and colored backgrounds (instructions can be found at http://www.american.edu/ctrl/greenresources.cfm) (2 points)
  • If you have a choice, use the chalkboard/whiteboard rather than flip chart (1 point)
  • If you bring coffee or tea to class, use a re-usable mug, rather than a paper cup, and encourage your students to do the same (1 point)
  • Allow students to bring a laptop or tablet to class for note-taking (1 point)
  • If you take attendance or ask students to sign up for meetings, keep the record on a spreadsheet in electronic format, rather than passing around sign-in/sign-up sheet every class (2 points)
  • Use a lecture-capture or podcasting program to record supplementary materials in video and audio format rather than posting notes (2 points)
  • If you were to assign books, assign e-books rather than printed books (1 point)
  • If you were to assign books, only require students to purchase books from which the majority of chapters have been assigned as required reading (2 points)
  • If you were to assign books, recommend buying used books, and/or recommend an earlier version of the main text and provide materials online to bring it up to date (1 point)
  • If you were to assign reference books, keep a copy available on reserve at the library (1 point)
  • If you were to assign articles and book chapters as supplemental or required readings, use e-reserves rather than hand out hard copies (3 points)
  • If you were to assign books, in the last session of the course, circulate a sign-up sheet for students who would like to sell their books, and provide this list to students in the following semester (2 points)
  • If you were to assign books, avoid ordering desk copies unless you really need them (2 points)
  • If you were to post articles, book chapters and handouts online, encourage students to read these online rather than printing them (2 points)

Saving Energy and Reducing Emissions:

  • Use energy-efficient equipment, such as iPads or other tablets, rather than equipment with a higher energy consumption (3 points)
  • Turn off the lights if the classroom (or, if you teach online from home, in your home) has enough daylight for your needs, and/or when you leave the room (5 points)
  • If possible, reduce the energy use in rooms with adjustable heat/AC (1 point)
  • If possible, turn off any electronic equipment that you are not using in the classroom (2 points)
  • If possible, when you leave your office for a break or for the day, switch off all electronic equipment (2 points)
  • Schedule office hours online, or before or after class so that your students do not need to make a separate trip to campus to meet you in person (5 points)
  • Encourage your students to meet virtually for group work (e.g. by using Google Hangouts or Skype) (1 point)
  • On snow days and other similar occasions, hold class using the Virtual classroom function in Blackboard, Collaborate, or another online forum, rather than rescheduling class to a different day (1 point)
  • Bike, walk, or use public transportation to come to campus rather than driving… (3)… always!; (2) …more than once a week; (1)… once a week; (1)… never, but I drive a fuel efficient or electric vehicle; or (1) never, but I carpool (1-3 points)
  •  If you were to schedule an off-campus field trip or meeting, encourage students to walk or take public transportation (rather than taking cabs or driving) (1 point)
  • If you were to invite guest speakers, rather than bringing remotely located speakers to campus… (2)… bring them in virtually, using speakerphone or videoconferencing tools; or (1)… invite local speakers (1-2 points)
  • Use an online chat-function, videoconferencing, or allow students to phone you rather than setting up appointments on days when you do not usually come to campus (2 points)
  • Use an online forum, chat-function, or videoconferencing to hold review sessions to save students a trip to campus (1 point)

Other Measures:

  • If possible, teach about aspects of the environment within your subject area (2 points)
  • Have your students take the Sustainability Tour at AU as an assignment, or as part of a class (instructions can be found at http://www.american.edu/ctrl/greenresources.cfm) (1 point)
  • Recycle transparencies and other materials from previous courses rather than reprinting them (1 point)
  •  If you bring water or lunch to class, use a reusable water bottle or lunch box, rather than disposable bottles or plastic bags, and encourage your students to do the same (1 point)
  • Help increase your students' awareness of the recycling bins in the classroom buildings (1 point)
  • Include a Green Teaching Initiative section in your syllabus informing students about the program, and encouraging them to support it (a sample can be found at http://www.american.edu/ctrl/greenresources.cfm) (2 points)
  • Use the option of individualized questions to add a question about your green teaching to the end-of-semester Student Evaluation of Teaching (a sample can be found at http://www.american.edu/ctrl/greenresources.cfm) (2 points)
  • Allow CTRL staff to post a detailed summary of your Green Teaching Certificate commitments and score on your Blackboard course pages for your students to view (5 points)
  • Allow CTRL staff to post a comprehensive online student survey on Green Teaching on your Blackboard course pages at the end of each semester and encourage students to fill out the survey (2 points)
  • Ask your graduate research and/or teaching assistant to also follow "green" teaching criteria (2 points)
  • Recommend the Green Teaching Certificate to a colleague (2 points)
  • Use AU's sustainability platform ASustainableU to log your action of becoming a Green Teacher (a link and further instructions will be provided in the confirmation email upon certification) (1 point)

Bonus Points:

You can receive bonus points for any measure you are taking to make your course greener that is not listed in the Green Teaching Certificate Questionnaire.

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