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  • Author or Editor: Perry M. Morgan x
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As the landscape design/build industry continues to develop, opportunities for providing baccalaureate degree programs in landscape contracting increase. Employers seek individuals with competencies that are not adequately addressed by traditional horticulture or landscape architecture curricula. The Department of Horticulture at Penn State has developed a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Contracting degree. The program, now entering its fourth year of resident instruction, has experienced rapid growth and a high degree of success. Annual increases in student interest and demand have necessitated caps on the number of students entering the major. An emphasis on design process and on construction technology, and a requirement for successful completion of courses in Horticulture and allied departments contribute to an education which instructs students in the art, science, and management of a professional design/build business. Integration of computer-aided design into Landscape Contracting courses positions graduates to carry current technology to the industry. Students obtain skills on the use of AutoCAD, LandCADD, and New Image software.

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Experiential learning has proven to be a valuable component of the Landscape Contracting curriculum in Penn State's Department of Horticulture. Implemented in four classes, two with design orientation and two with construction orientation, experiential learning has been utilized to stimulate and encourage critical thinking among students, both individually and in group situations. This teaching method serves to ignite student interest in further exploration of both concepts and process. Students involved in experiential projects have taken initiative to go beyond problem statement requirements to expand project scopes and elevate the quality of finished products. Indications of exceptional student motivation include requests by course enrollees for additional work to further develop design concepts, and organization of work sessions outside of class time to accommodate expanded work objectives. Successful integration of experiential learning into course outlines requires instructor skills that differ substantially from those employed in traditional lecture or studio formats.

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