Student Software Usage Patterns in a Computer-based Interactive Program for Woody Landscape Plant Instruction

in HortScience
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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801

UIPLANTS is a program developed under Microsoft Windows to help students in woody plant materials courses. Its many options include an encyclopedic format that displays 256-color high-resolution images of plant identification characteristics and ornamental features coupled with text, side by side image comparisons, “book markers” to return to selected screens, and a slide show that runs a display of images in a user-defined format. The system is being used to study how students learn information presented to them through computers and which program features are most effective in improving plant knowledge. Through computer logging of all student activity within the program and surveys given to the test groups, some basic usage patterns were derived. Students using the program with no incentive tended to use the program in a more comprehensive manner, switching back and forth between the slide show and encyclopedic entries with equal time spent in each. The comparison and “bookmark” features were used but less frequently. Half of the students, given an extra credit incentive based on time, followed this same usage pattern, but the other half simply used the slide show with minimal student–computer interaction.

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