On-line Field Guide to Native Plants for Introductory Biology Students

in HortScience
Authors:
R.D. QuinnDepartment of Biological Sciences, California State Polytechnic University–Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Avenue, Pomona, CA 91768, e-mail rdquinn@csupomona.edu, fax: (909) 869-4078, phone (909) 869-4056

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D.J. HaselfeldDepartment of Biological Sciences, California State Polytechnic University–Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Avenue, Pomona, CA 91768, e-mail rdquinn@csupomona.edu, fax: (909) 869-4078, phone (909) 869-4056

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We are developing an on-line guide to introduce biology students to the native plants of the Cal Poly campus. It will be used prior to field laboratory exercises, and as a reinforcement after field study. It presents reference information in an interactive and nonlinear manner which encourages students to pursue information in the way that is most interesting to them. The guide is organized by a very simple key that divides plants according to habit (trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, forbs). This simple approach is possible because the guide includes only the 30 common species that students must recognize to do plant sampling exercises. Each species has a screen that displays photographs, line drawings, and a nontechnical narrative. This guide displays the appearance of plants in all seasons, and will be available at all times as a web site. It is particularly useful when laboratories meet in inclement weather or at night. As a web site, it displays the native flora of the Cal Poly campus to the world. The guide was relatively easy to construct with common multimedia equipment. The same approach could be readily employed by any educational program that repeatedly uses the same field site.

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