Development and Implementation of a Nonmajors Horticultural Survey Class

in HortTechnology
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  • 1 Department of Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0670.

Attracting new students into traditional agriculture programs has become increasingly difficult. Offering a survey course as a means for introducing students to agriculture is a concept with popular appeal. As a recruiting effort, and as a method of introducing students to horticulture, the Environmental Horticulture Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville, designed a one-credit course for nonmajors. The course was structured to provide a broad overview of horticulture, emphasizing plant use to enhance interior and exterior environments. The intent was to develop a course somewhat similar to an entry-level course for majors, but with each lecture devoted to a single, self-contained topic. When feasible, hands-on activities were incorporated within the classroom presentation. The course ORH 1030-Plants, Gardens, and You was offered for the first time in Summer 1997. It is now offered every semester. The course has one faculty assigned each semester and various other faculty members, including teaching, research, and extension specialists, participate as guest lecturers. Methods to improve the course are discussed by the faculty presenters and the course coordinator each term. Student response to ORH 1030 has been favorable, ratings are high and enrollment in the course has continued to rise from 30 to our current cap of 100. As a means of ensuring that we are meeting the needs of our students and to aid in targeting potential students, a survey was administered in Spring 2000. Students enrolled in the course were surveyed at the beginning and the end of the semester to gain insight into student demographics, horticulture background and experience, reasons for enrollment in the class, and overall interest in the course.