Landscape design and installation is a fast-growing and profitable segment of the horticulture industry (Landscape Management, 2003). As the landscape profession grows and becomes more sophisticated, the demand for employees who can integrate technical knowledge with practical application increases (Beidler et al., 2006; Berle, 2007). Providing opportunities for students to develop these skills is an essential part of their undergraduate education.
One way to help students develop higher-order thinking skills, those that require synthesis, application, and evaluation, is to integrate Bloom's Taxonomy (Bloom et al., 1956) into the curriculum (McCormick and Whittington, 2000; VanDerZanden, 2005). Bloom's taxonomy is a classification method for thinking behaviors and includes the cognitive domain (knowledge-based), the affective domain (attitudinal-based), and the psychomotor domain (skills-based) (Bloom et al., 1956). To ascend through the hierarchical taxonomy requires more complex thinking. Through this system students move from activities that show knowledge, comprehension, and application to those that require them to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate (Fig. 1).
Research suggests that reflective writing can be an effective teaching method in agriculture-related fields (Boyd et al., 2006; Lindner et al., 2002; Moss et al., 2002). Reflective writing assignments can be used to help the learner construct meaning from information and experiences (Boyd et al., 2006; Litke, 2002) and requires students to use the higher-order thinking skills indicated in Bloom's taxonomy. Hatton and Smith (1995) identified four types of reflective writing that move from the lowest level of descriptive writing to the highest level of in-depth critical reflection. Each level provides different benefits for the student writer and all are fundamental to the reflection and learning process (Walkington et al., 2001).
The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a series of three reflective writing assignments. Through these assignments students apply technical content covered in a course as well as their own background and experiences to short writing assignments related to landscape design.
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