Case studies are a way to bring real-world problems into the classroom. The case-study method places the student in the role of decision maker, mimicking situations that they may encounter in future employment. Students are presented with a dilemma, detailed background information, and supporting materials. They are asked to evaluate the situation and consider possible solutions. This case study is designed to provide a tool to develop diagnostic skills for ornamental crop production dilemmas, including nutritional disorders and pest problems, and to evaluate cultural practices and environmental conditions related to crop growth and development. Because cut dicentra is a very minor crop, standard production practices are not well established. Solving this case requires that students become familiar with production protocol as well as disorders incited by both biotic and abiotic factors.
Part of this assignment also includes evaluating the costs, in terms of both time and money, of using various diagnostic tools. These tools include contacting extension specialists in horticulture, entomology, and plant pathology; nutrient analyses; and pathology tests. The “time and money budget form” (TMBF), which was refined in 2006 (Fig. 1), is designed to help students appreciate the costs of each available tool. Completion of the TMBF could be a required assignment before a class discussion to help ensure that students thoroughly peruse the case study. The TMBF allows students to select only five of the 10 possible actions to emphasize the limits of time and money when diagnosing most production dilemmas. However, ideally students could choose to explore all the possible diagnostic actions before selecting what to record on the TMBF. This activity exposes them to many of the diagnostic options, but they still must make a judgment regarding which strategies they believe will be most successful to resolve the situation. The revised 2006 TMBF requires students to evaluate the given information rather than resolve the situation. The ultimate solution to the case is not revealed in the results of any of the diagnostic options.
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