University of Wisconsin Stout | Wisconsin's Polytechnic University
Celebrating 125 Years
UW-Stout celebrates 125 years of creative learning and technological innovation. Learn more about UW-Stout's history and polytechnic advantage. More
Elbert Sorrell teaches Occupational Safety and Loss Control; Loss Control Systems; Risk Management Applications; Construction Risk Management; and Seminar in Risk Control. His favorite is Loss Control systems. He finds it is more in line with his interests and expertise. The class is about implementing a management system to affect organizations from a safety standpoint. He is able to integrate what he does into business and treat it like any business function.
Elbert’s method for helping his students understand the material is a three-step process. First, he provides them with reading; second, he gives them explanations; and third, he gets them to engage in applications.
He also likes to use case studies, but that has drawbacks. He is responsible for students’ mastering the content and achieving course objectives but sometimes it’s difficult for students to apply standards because the case studies in Sorrell’s field are too complex.
A recent innovation is an “issues paper” assignment. Students have to identify a related issue, research the background, conduct a literature review, include more than one perspective, and formulate their own perspective. In the past, students waited too long to work on these papers and the results were poor. Now, Elbert gives them intermediate deadlines, like a statement of the issue by a certain date, an annotated bibliography by a slightly later date, and so on.
Elbert recently had a sabbatical and visited other universities: the Republic University in Singapore—a polytechnic university where they use only problem-based learning; a university in Peru; the University of Delaware—another place that uses problem-based learning; and Harvard where he learned about the Art and Craft of Discussion Leadership. He has also discovered that he is very interested in Investigative Learning, following the work of Ethel Stanley from Beloit.