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John E. Preece

Two nongraded techniques are described that assess student expectations and learning in horticulture classes. These involve anonymous, in-class student responses that can encourage and enhance interaction, communication, and learning without being a burden to the instructor. During the first class meeting, students were given 5 minutes to write their course objectives onto filing cards. By summarizing their objectives, reviewing them with the class at the beginning of the next period, and comparing their objectives with mine, I was able to react to student interests and needs in a constructive manner. About once per week at the end of a lecture, students were given 3 minutes to write the “muddiest point” of that lecture. This enabled me to clarify points orally, in writing, or by specific reading assignments. If the instructor responds in a timely manner, these assessment techniques will be taken seriously by the students. Such techniques can increase interest, understanding, and the perception that students can have a positive influence on the quality of their instruction.

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Mona R. Corbett, Christine D. Townsend, and Jayne M. Zajicek

Plant identification is a prerequisite to many, if not all, horticulturally related classes. It typically has been taught through the use of live specimens, slides, and text books. Recently, computers have entered the picture as a possible tool to teach plant identification. Increased availability and sophistication of computer systems in the college setting have led to the increased use of computers in instruction.

The objective of this study was to determine if there was a relationship between a student's learning style and academic achievement following computer assisted instruction. Undergraduate students enrolled in a plant identification class were involved in the study. Students learned plant identification either by: 1) viewing live specimens, 2) utilizing a computer instruction database system, or 3) combining live specimens with computer instruction. The students' cognitive knowledge was evaluated with pre and post tests. Learning style and attitude toward computer assisted instruction were also obtained.

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Virginia I. Lohr

instruction. Methods An online survey about teaching climate change or global warming in undergraduate classes related to horticulture was created. Survey items asked about climate change content in the curriculum, content in the courses the respondent taught

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R.W. Peifer

During the past 6 years, the General Biology Program at the Univ. of Minnesota has been exploring the use of computer-based multimedia to improve the quality of undergraduate instruction in large undergraduate courses. Our project has created an image library of about 3500 computer graphics, animations, and digital video sequences for lecture support, as well as the software to present and manage this image library. During the past 3 years, students have used computers for modeling, simulation, and problem-solving activities in the laboratory of our evolution and ecology undergraduate course. Most recently, we have begun to integrate the World Wide Web into our curriculum in a variety of ways. This presentation demonstrates the comprehensive way in which our Program has combined these “new” information technologies into our introductory courses. The general applicability of this approach to any discipline will be discussed.

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D.H. Picha

A course entitled “Plantation, Beverage, and Tropical Nut Crops” was developed in order to expand the content and diversity of the horticulture curriculum at Louisiana State University. The course was designed for both upper division undergraduates and graduate students in the plant sciences. The course was intended to broaden the exposure of both domestic and international students to the world's most important plantation, beverage, and tropical nut crops. These crops are generally not commercially grown in the United States, but include some of the world's most economically significant commodities. The selected crops are typically not covered in existing horticulture or agronomy classes. Details of the individual crop cultural practices, harvesting methods, postharvest care, agro-processing, and international marketing are provided. The instructional materials were formatted for delivery via compressed video and transmitted to off-campus sites to afford the opportunity of long-distance learning to nontraditional students. The course was successful in attracting nonhorticulture students and facilitated interdisciplinary interaction among students from diverse curricula.

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Harrison Hughes, Elizabeth Mogen, Steven Newman, James Klett, and Anthony Koski

An assessment plan for the Horticulture and Landscape Horticulture majors has been developed as part of a university-wide effort to assess resident instruction. The program mission has been described as the preparation of graduates with a passion for Horticulture/Landscape Horticulture who can contribute to Colorado's agricultural and green industry economy through high levels of: 1) technical competency and skills, including disciplinary competence, and a working knowledge in the appropriate field; 2) management and leadership skills; and 3) problem-solving skills. Assessment methods involved the development of evaluation forms for internships, practicum, independent study, group study, and the capstone courses. Student, faculty, clients, and industry personnel used standardized forms, which varied somewhat for the two majors and seven concentrations, to critically assess and score student and faculty efforts. Internships, practicum, and capstone courses were evaluated for program purpose. The management and leadership skills of the students were evaluated based on their performance during internships by cooperators and also by their activities, as demonstrated through their involvement in university, college, departmental, and community activities. Problem-solving skills were evaluated primarily through student performance in capstone courses, with specific criteria in the internship and in leadership activities of clubs. The expectation is that 70% to 75% of the students will score 3 or 3+ on all criteria established for a rating system of 1–5. Students have generally met this standard and plans are under way to continually upgrade courses and related activities to improve the teaching program

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Anthony W. Kahtz

The cognitive learning style theory of field dependence and independence was used to examine the academic achievement of students using a computer assisted instruction (CAI) program in a woody plant identification course. The Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) was used to determine the students' level of field dependence and independence. Students were blocked and randomly assigned to experimental or control groups. Participants in the experimental group used a nonlinear drill and tutorial type of CAI program as a partial laboratory substitute. The CAI program had no influence relative to traditional laboratories upon either field dependent or field independent students' long term memory of course material. However, the CAI program was of equal benefit to field dependent and independent students' academic achievement. Qualitative interviews were also conducted to assess the effect of the CAI program. Data indicated that field dependent students benefited from the CAI program as a presentation source of recall cues in the reviewing of course material, but not for the initial acquisition of knowledge. Field independent students may be able to use the CAI program to initially acquire knowledge, but its best usage may be as a method of presenting recall cues to refresh their memory. These results showed that the CAI program could be used as a partial laboratory substitute for traditional woody plant identification laboratories with no adverse effect upon student academic achievement, regardless of their level of field dependency.

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Mark Rieger

At the University of Georgia, HORT 3020 (Introduction to Fruit Crops) is a two-credit survey of the botanical characteristics, taxonomy, and production practices of the world's major fruit crops. It is offered via traditional classroom instruction, and as a distance education (DE) course through the University System of Georgia Independent Study program. The DE version of the course is designed to be identical in content, final exam, and grading scale. However, due to the nature of independent study, the end-of-topic evaluations are open-book, written assignments in the DE course, whereas students in the classroom version have closed-book quizzes at the end of each topic. Student performance in the two versions of the course was compared over a 3-year period (May 1998 to May 2001) by analyzing scores on end-of-topic evaluations, final exams, and overall course grades. Students in the DE version had higher scores on end-of-topic evaluations in all 3 years, higher scores on a comprehensive final exam in 2 of 3 years, and consequently higher overall course grades than classroom students in all 3 years. Better performance of DE over classroom students may have been related to 1) qualitative differences in end-of-topic evaluations (written assignments versus quizzes), 2) differences in student demographics (nontraditional students in DE, traditional undergraduates in classroom), 3) the elective (DE) versus required (classroom) nature of the courses, or 4) differences in course duration (1 year for DE, 15 weeks for classroom). Equal or better performance of DE students suggests that survey courses such as Introduction to Fruit Crops can be offered via distance education without compromising learning outcomes.

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Cynthia B. McKenney, Ellen B. Peffley, and Igino Teolis

( Herrington, 2006 ; Powell et al., 2008 ) A recent national survey of online instruction found over 3 million students enrolled in at least one online course during the Fall 2006 term ( Allen and Seaman, 2007 ). This represents 20% of all higher education