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Catherine C. Lavis and Laura A. Brannon

In the Fall 1999 semester, the Department of Horticulture, Forestry, and Recreation Resources at Kansas State University introduced a 3-credit-hour irrigation system principles and installation course with experiential learning as the core of the instructional format. The experiential learning component of the course is the multiweek installation of a residential irrigation system during the laboratory sections that allows students to learn the procedural skills necessary to properly install an irrigation system. To assess the influence that this experiential learning activity may have on students' confidence to perform specific irrigation installation skills, a survey was administered to 70 undergraduates enrolled in the course (HORT 550: Landscape Irrigation Systems) during the Fall 2006 and 2007 semesters before and after the completion of the irrigation system. Using a Likert scale, students responded to two questions pertaining to 10 specific irrigation skills used during the installation project: 1) whether they actually performed the particular skill during the installation (coded 0 = did not assist, 1 = did assist); and 2) how confident they were to perform that aspect of installation on their own (on a 9-point Likert scale with 1 = not at all confident to 9 = extremely confident). The correlation between whether students actually performed the particular skill during the installation and how confident they were that they could actually do it on their own was significant (r = 0.46, P < 0.0001). During the Fall 2006 semester, 44 students were asked to compare their actual experience installing the system to what they learned during lecture and by reading the textbook; participants said that installing the system greatly increased their understanding (mean = 7.84, sd = 1.41) and increased their confidence to perform particular skills (m = 7.84, sd = 1.03). As documented in the survey, students benefitted significantly from this experiential learning activity.

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Marci Spaw*, Kimberly A. Williams, and Laura A. Brannon

This study compared student learning outcomes of two teaching methodologies: a summary lecture and an asynchronous web-based method that included a case study (www.hightunnels.org/planningcasestudy.htm) followed by an all-class discussion. Twenty-one students taking an upper-level undergraduate course in greenhouse management were randomly split into two groups. Each group experienced both methodologies with presentations designed to provide complimentary information about site planning for protected environment structures; however, the order in which the groups received the methods was reversed. After each presentation, the participants were given an identical quiz (Time 1 and Time 2) comprised of questions that assessed knowledge gained, higher-order learning, and their perception of how confident they would be in solving actual site planning scenarios. Though quiz scores were not different between the two groups after Time 1 or 2, overall quiz scores improved after Time 2 for both groups combined (P = 0.03). When questions were categorized as lower-order vs. higher-order learning, a greater increase in scores was observed in higher-order learning (P = 0.12 vs. P = 0.04, respectively). Although students' perceived confidence was not influenced by which method was received first (P = 0.23), their confidence increased after Time 2 compared to Time 1 (P = 0.07). Rather than one teaching method being superior to the other, this study suggests that it is beneficial to use both. Interestingly, while students overwhelmingly preferred to receive the summary lecture before the web-based method, there was no significant difference in test scores between the two orders, suggesting that neither order offered any advantage.

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Morgan M. Jenkins, Kimberly A. Williams, and Laura A. Brannon

This research examines whether knowledge about floral preservatives increases consumers’ perception of quality, purchase intention, and price of a floral arrangement. A survey was administered to 222 participants at two locations in Manhattan, KS. Seventy-three percent of respondents fell within Generation Y (18 to 30 years old). The survey instrument presented four levels of presentation of a floral arrangement that were associated with increasing knowledge about the use of floral preservatives on consumers’ perceptions about the quality and price of that arrangement, as follows: Level 1 showed a photo of a floral arrangement without preservatives; Level 2 showed the same photo of a floral arrangement with a small, unlabeled packet of preservatives; Level 3 showed the same photo of a floral arrangement with a large, clearly labeled packet of preservatives; and Level 4 showed the same photos as Level 3 but was presented after a 191-word message describing the three functions of floral preservatives. Participants of the survey rated the quality of a floral arrangement higher from Level 2 (presence of floral preservatives not explicit) to Level 3 (presence of floral preservatives explicit) and from Level 3 to Level 4 (after reading a message about floral preservatives’ function and effectiveness). Their intent to purchase the floral arrangement generally increased with each level of presentation. Females indicated intention to purchase flowers more frequently than males. Participants increased the price that they were willing to pay for the floral arrangement at each level of presentation, starting at $25.46 at Level 1 (no floral preservatives use indicated) to $29.19 at Level 4. Participants were more knowledgeable about the benefits of floral preservatives and believed that floral preservatives increased the value of floral arrangements after reading a message describing their function and effectiveness more so than before reading a message. The younger the respondent, the more willing they were to pay more for floral arrangements with floral preservatives. As consumers become more aware of the use of floral preservatives and more knowledgeable about how and why they are effective, they attribute higher quality to floral arrangements with preservatives, they are willing to pay more for arrangements with preservatives, and their purchase intention frequency increases. Florists should always use preservatives in their processing and construction of fresh floral arrangements, consider providing a message about the function and effectiveness of floral preservatives to their customers, and then market their use of these materials.