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  • Author or Editor: Laura A. Sanagorski 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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