Integrating a University and Community College Course in Landscape Construction

in HortTechnology

Strong linkages among 2-year community colleges and 4-year universities are likely to foster the transition of more students into higher education and enhance student diversity. Two New Mexico educational institutions, Doña Ana Branch Community College (a 2-year community college) and New Mexico State University (a 4-year university), offered a landscape construction class as a joint course offering for students at both institutions. The objective of this educational approach was to develop a system that facilitates the seamless integration of compatible curricula from a community college and a university. Course evaluations showed that 63% of students enrolled in the combined class rated the combining of a university and community college class as an above average or excellent model of education. When asked to rate whether classroom materials and laboratory activities supported learning, 94% of the class rated those materials as excellent. Eighty-eight percent of students rated the presentation of subject matter as above average or excellent when asked if the subject matter was presented in an interesting manner. Students valued the experiential learning projects and would highly recommend the course to their peers. In this redesigned course, women and minorities constituted 63% of the class, suggesting that this educational approach has the potential to retain a large number of underrepresented groups in landscape horticulture. We conclude that this collaborative approach for teaching landscape horticulture is likely to enhance horticultural education and foster a seamless educational experience for students who transition from a community college to a university. Also, this educational approach could serve as a model for curricula that combine practical knowledge with advances in science and technology.

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to whom reprint requests should be addressed. E-mail: rsthilai@nmsu.edu

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