The University of Florida College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers the Bachelor of Science degree program in Environmental Horticulture at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center (FLREC). Instructors at the FLREC deliver course work and course work is also presented using a variety of distance education (DE) technologies. These DE technologies include interactive video conferencing, videotape, and web-based courses. The question often arises as to how many courses should be delivered using DE versus live onsite instruction. This survey was conducted to ascertain how students perceive the quality of education they are receiving using a mixture of delivery methods.
Kimberly K. Moore, George E. Fitzpatrick, and Jane E. Slane
Robert J. Joly
Writing is a powerful tool for thinking and for clarifying complex subjects. It's a much more physical activity than reading. It compels students to organize their thoughts and present them clearly and logically. They must continually reassess whether what they've written is really what they want to say. The focus of this presentation is on the impediments to implementing this approach in our teaching. Our objective is to seek methods for reducing the work load of instructors while maintaining the quality of learning that can occur in a writing-intensive course. Results of workshops conducted during the 1993 North Central Regional Teaching Symposium entitled “Writing to Learn in Science” will be discussed. The workshops were active, participatory sessions designed to elicit as many responses as possible to the question “How can we utilize writing, intensively, in our courses?” Five obstacles or barriers to implementation of writing were identified. These include (1) instructor anxiety, (2) students requiring individualized instruction, (3) time-consuming evaluation of student writing, (4) in-class time needed for writing instruction, and (5) lack of student motivation. A focused-discussion format was utilized in these sessions, and groups of participants were given responsibility to devise creative actions or strategies that could be utilized to meet the challenges noted above. More than forty “actions” were identified which could help to make this approach feasible in both graduate and undergraduate. courses. These are summarized within five broad strategic approaches.
Learning style preferences may impact the success of on-line students in distance education courses. In this study, students from four on-line courses voluntarily completed a modified learning styles assessment instrument. Students attaining a course average of 90% or greater were considered to have excelled in their respective course. The results from these learners were compared to those of students with lower course averages. It was determined the students that excelled in these on-line courses were visual learners that preferred more images and diagrams than textual references and instructions. This was confirmed by their choice of a map rather than written instructions to a new location when compared to their peers. In addition, they were more likely to prefer a class where they used visual skills rather than auditory skills than their peers. The high-performing students were also more likely to lose points on a timed test due to not reading the written information carefully, while their peers with lower course averages were more likely to run out of time on the test. Recognizing these learning style differences may allow faculty to design courses that better suit their on-line students.
Adelaide Pigg* and Tina M. Waliczek
Science and math achievement scores of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade elementary students were studied using a sample of 196 students from McAuliffe Elementary School, located in McAllen, Texas. Students in the experimental group participated in the Junior Master Gardener™ program in addition to the traditional classroom-based math and science methods. In contrast, students within the control group were taught math and science using only traditional classroom-based methods. No statistically significant differences were found in comparisons of science students' achievement scores, indicating that those students using the Junior Master Gardener™ program as a method to learn science benefited similarly to those who learned using only traditional science classroom-based instruction. However, results indicated statistically significant differences in comparisons of students' math achievement scores showing that those students who received traditional math instruction had more improved math achievement scores compared to those taught using the Junior Master Gardener™ program. Results also found no statistically significant differences between demographic groups indicating that males and females and students from different ethnicities benefited similarly from participation in the Junior Master Gardener™ program.
Richard E. Durham*
The Kentucy Master Gardener Program is administered through the Cooperative Extension Service of the Univ. of Kentucky with assistance from the Kentucky State Univ. Land Grant Program. Master Gardener Programs in Kentucky were originally established in urban areas of the state, but have more recently expanded to rural areas as well. Master Gardener Programs are currently active in over 25 Kentucky counties. Individual Master Gardener programs are under the direction of a county extension agent (or group of agents if the program involves multiple counties) who is assisted by two, part-time state co-coordinators (extension horticulture specialists). The county agents are responsible for Master Gardener recruitment, training, and volunteer management. A required “core content” for Master Gardener training includes a total of 24 hours of instruction in basic plant science and an orientation to Cooperative Extension. State extension specialists have compiled an extensive training manual that covers the required topics as well as additional subject areas. To become certified Master Gardeners, trainees must complete assigned homework, pass a comprehensive final exam, and complete at least one hour of volunteer service for each hour of formal instruction. The county agents determine requirements for continued certification and agents may also offer advanced Master Gardener training. This poster will provide details regarding Master Gardener recruitment, training, and retention in Kentucky.
Global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system (GIS) technologies are at the cutting edge of an emerging agricultural revolution called site-specific management. Anticipated benefits are both economic and environmental because in this system, herbicides, fertilizers and other inputs are placed only where needed in the precise amounts required. The opportunities for site-specific management of crops, soils, and pests are innumerable. However, most students of agriculture and land resource sciences have little, if any, experience with the GPS and GIS technologies that provide these new opportunities. Beginning in 1995, efforts were undertaken to integrate GPS/GIS technology into the College of Agriculture curriculum. The process began with GPS/GIS training workshops for local and regional faculty. Key faculty modified curriculum within several departmental options and produced instructional modules for 12 different agriculture science courses. Experiential learning opportunities were developed and in some classes, farmer practitioners of site-specific management participated with students in identifying management problems and solutions. Instructional modules and active learning exercises were formally evaluated as to their effects on enhanced student decisionmaking skills and competency in GPS/GIS applications. Recently the new course LRES 357 “GPS/GIS Applications” was added to the curriculum and work is underway to place this course on-line.
Mark A. Hubbard
College of the Ozarks is a private, liberal arts college in southwestern Missouri, and the Agriculture Dept. has recently begun instituting a variety of horticulture courses in an effort to meet the increasing student interest in horticultural science. The objective is to educate and train students in the horticulture fundamentals and specific production areas (advanced courses). Also, the College is in the process of constructing teaching and demonstration gardens to be used in conjunction with classroom instruction. These gardens will include a plant materials collection and horticultural crop production areas. Additionally, as the College requires that students work part-time at any of several work “stations” on campus, students have the opportunity to gain experience in landscaping or in production greenhouses on campus. Currently, the college has 10,000 ft2 of greenhouse space that is operated for the purposes of producing plants for campus landscaping, maintaining a ≥6000 orchid collection, and producing plants for seasonal sales. The college intends to integrate the classroom instruction, experiences in the teaching gardens, and the required work experiences to provide students with a complete horticultural education. Comments and suggestions for this budding endeavor are highly sought after.
Gail R. Nonnecke
A learning community was developed for first-year students majoring in horticulture at Iowa State Univ. in 1998. Learning communities are a curriculum design that schedules courses for both students and faculty to encourage community and connections among students, between students and faculty, and among faculty. Learning communities can offer students more opportunities for interactions among each other, academic assistance through supplemental instruction and/or group study sessions, and planned horticulture-related activities, all of which are important for success and retention of first-year students. First-year students in the horticulture learning community enrolled in the same courses and sections of five courses. The first-year English composition course was linked to the second-year principles of horticulture course that requires writing-across-the-curriculum activities. Faculty mentoring was provided through local field trips to horticultural sites of keen interest to the students. Academic environment survey results showed students rated their expectations highly for developing a network of other students as a resource group and for learning cooperatively in groups. Iowa State Univ. supports learning communities by providing faculty development and facilitating course registration, peer mentoring, supplemental instruction for challenging core courses, and academic and student services, to strengthen undergraduate teaching programs within and outside of the classroom.
A.E. Pigg, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek
Science and math achievement scores of third, fourth, and fifth grade elementary students were studied using a sample of 196 students from McAuliffe Elementary School, located in McAllen, Texas. The experimental group of students participated in a school garden program in addition to traditional classroom-based math and science methods, while students within the control group were taught math and science using only traditional classroom-based methods. No statistically significant differences were found in comparisons of science students' achievement scores, indicating that those students using the school garden program as an additional method to learn science benefited similarly to those who learned using only traditional science classroom-based instruction. However, results indicated statistically significant differences in comparisons of students' math achievement scores, showing that those students who received traditional math instruction had more improved math achievement scores compared to those taught using the school garden program. Results also found no statistically significant differences between gender and ethnic background comparisons. However, statistically significant differences in comparisons of grade levels showed that fourth graders benefited more, academically, from participation in the school garden program in comparison to other grade levels.
Sonja M. Skelly and Jennifer C. Bradley
While gardening is the number one hobby in the United States, elementary schools are just beginning to explore the use of school gardens as a means to enhance classroom learning. School gardens can reinforce classroom instruction by offering opportunities for experiential learning. The benefits of experiential learning allow for a better understanding of concepts as the hands-on approach provides meaningful and tangible experiences. While many teachers have anecdotally attested to the benefits of school gardens, there is little empirical evidence documenting their impact. In Fall 1997, the University of Florida hosted a competition for the best elementary school garden in Florida. Results from a research questionnaire completed by participating teachers indicated that teachers used school gardens infrequently, with the majority using the garden as an instructional tool no more than 10% of the time. Many teachers did, however, indicate that school gardens were used for environmental education (97.1%) and experiential learning (72.9%), and 84.3 % of teachers said that related activities enhanced student learning. Findings also indicate that the teachers surveyed had relatively new gardens and teachers lacked, or were unaware of educational resources to assist with garden learning. This paper describes and interprets the results of the teacher questionnaire.