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  • Author or Editor: George E. Fitzpatrick x
  • HortTechnology x
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Trees in urban settings require more care because they are more likely to develop structural defects that can be costly, dangerous, or more maintenance-intensive than those in natural settings. People need to understand how trees grow in the urban environment and how to recognize potentially hazardous structural defects, yet this is not a topic regularly presented in school curriculum. The objectives of this study were to determine if structural defect recognition in trees is an appropriate topic for sixth grade curriculum, and to explore the efficacy of two methods of teaching this topic. We introduced structural defects in trees to sixth grade students, as part of the normal science instruction at three public middle schools located in Broward County, FL. We found sixth grade students to be capable of recognizing and comprehending the implications of structural defects in trees following a short period of instruction. We compared hands-on, experiential instruction with a passive, illustrated lecture style instruction for teaching students to recognize structural defects in trees and determined that students exposed to both methods of instruction increased their ability to recognize defects overall. Moreover, we observed that students exposed to defects in trees via illustrated lecture style classroom instruction received significantly higher scores in the post-test than students exposed to the same material via a hands-on approach.

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As the horticulture industry enters the 21st century, advances in horticulture science will continue to be more rapid and frequent creating the need for more innovative approaches in information delivery. Moreover, decentralization continues to be a widespread trend. Land-grant universities have a long tradition of providing outreach, but with the development of new telecommunication technologies, larger audiences now can be reached. Many universities throughout the world have developed distance education programs through the use of modern telecommunication technologies. However, the University of Florida has responded to the needs of place-bound students by developing off-campus resident Bachelor of Science (BS) degree programs in horticulture at three locations in the state. These off-campus programs combine on-site instruction augmented with distance education courses to giveplace-bound students a flexible, efficient, and interactive alternative to degree programs offered at the main campus.

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Although composting has been practiced for thousands of years, it was not until the 20th century that controlled scientific studies were published illustrating the benefits of compost use in crop production. These studies helped to spur increased interest in composting and compost use, and gave way to the development of commercial composting facilities that supply finished compost products to horticultural producers. Increasing composting activity and compost use encouraged the formation in the late 20th century of trade organizations, such as the U.S. Composting Council and similar organizations in other countries, that support research and applications work to determine ways to improve quality control of commercial compost products.

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