The Landscape Design Theory class at Oregon State Univ. is composed of undergraduate students from a variety of majors including, horticulture, housing and interior design, business, criminal justice, and art. This diversity of majors means there is a wide range of student knowledge about the history of landscape design and creates a unique teaching opportunity. To capitalize on this diversity and to encourage student participation, concept or knowledge maps were used at the beginning of the term before the material being covered in class lectures. Students were divided into groups of three and asked to develop a group concept map. They were given major societies or events that occurred in history from about 2000 BC (ancient Egypt) through the early 20th century. Additionally each group was given a list of 20 landscape design elements or features. Initially each group developed a historical timeline. After the timeline was complete they linked the different landscape design elements or features with a historical era thereby creating a map of their understanding of landscape design history. After the landscape design history segment of the class was completed the small groups reconvened and evaluated their initial concept map in light of the recently completed lectures. Each group discussed their original map, what associations were correct, and how they would do it differently with their newfound understanding of landscape design history. A class discussion followed regarding initial perceptions and benefits of this learning activity. This teaching strategy could easily be adapted to a number of other horticulture topics.
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