374 PRACTICUM INSTRUCTION AND STUDENT LEARNING

in HortScience
Author: Barbara Fails1
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824

Experiential learning is an integral component of successful career preparation for the horticulture industry. The limited-enrollment practicum course through Sparty's Flowers has been taught for 7 years, and accounts largely for the overall success of the retail floriculture program. Structure is built into the course by assigning weekly individual learning objectives and assignments. Students, in turn, develop their own action plans, upon which evaluation is based. Interactive group meetings replace formal lectures for more effective instructional delivery. Knowledge retention is enhanced as lessons are experienced, not only heard and read. Technical hands-on experiences of design, display, advertising, recordkeeping, sales, and merchandising sharpen abilities. Professional skills, such as time management, interpersonal communication, leadership, and creative problem solving are also developed and fostered by all members of the class. Practicum instruction, as an example of effective collaborative learning, allows a creative and realistic approach to teaching horticulture.

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