course evaluation survey were used to collect information on student perceptions of the course and the instructor. Twenty-two questions covered the categories of “learning,” “enthusiasm,” “organization,” “individual rapport,” “examinations,” “assignments
Jennifer S. Doxey, Tina Marie Waliczek and Jayne M. Zajicek
Sharon Henss*, Jayne Zajicek and R. Daniel Lineberger
The performance and satisfaction of students enrolled in a traditionally structured lecture/lab floral design course and a Web-based version of the same course were compared. Students were assigned randomly to course sections by available seating. Data collected included a demographic survey, design and course evaluations, and test grades. Significant differences were noted in class grades, with students in the traditionally taught course outperforming the Web-based students in both lecture and lab grades. Results from a survey instrument designed to determine whether students were suited to the distance learning environment (given only to the Web-based students) indicated a direct correlation between distance preparedness and course grades. A higher level of distance course preparedness correlated with a higher grade in the course. There was also a direct correlation between grades and whether the student was in the course with the delivery method they preferred. Students who were assigned to the course they preferred had significantly higher grades than students who did not. These results indicate that overall, a course such as floral design may be more effectively taught through traditional teaching techniques. However, certain students with adequate computer skills and a preference for Web-based courses may be successful in courses such as floral design.
Kent D. Kobayashi*
How do we enhance students' learning experience and help them be aware of current and emerging technology used in horticulture? An undergraduate course on “Computer Applications, High Technology, and Robotics in Agriculture” was developed to address these needs. Its objectives were to familiarize students with the ways computers, high technology, and robotics are used in agriculture and to teach students how to design, build, and run a robot. The diverse topics included computer models and simulation, biosensors and instrumentation, graphical tracking and computer scheduling, new methods in plant ecology, automation and robotics, Web-based distance diagnostic and recommendation system, GIS and geospatial analysis, and greenhouse environmental control. An individual speaker presented one topic each week with students also visiting some speaker's labs. The students did active, hands on learning through assignments on computer simulations (STELLA simulation language) and graphical tracking (UNH FloraTrack software). They also built, programmed, and ran robots using Lego Mindstorms robotic kits. The course was evaluated using the Univ.'s CAFE system. There were also open-ended questions for student input. On a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), mean scores of the 20 CAFE questions ranged from 3.71 to 4.75 with an overall mean of 4.22. When comparisons to other TPSS courses were possible, this course had a higher mean score for four out of seven questions. Course evaluations indicated this special topics course was important and valuable in helping enhance the students' learning experience.
Hector Eduardo Pérez and Kent D. Kobayashi
Graduate students within the Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa developed a program that addressed their concerns regarding career enhancement and planned a Professional Development Seminar Series. Students identified topics related to enhancing their overall graduate experience and professional development, such as ethics in research, leadership in graduate school and beyond, interviewing skills, and writing critically for publications. Experts from the University of Hawaii and business communities presented 35- to 40-minute seminars on the various topics. Expectations of the students included participation in discussion sessions and completion of a critical thinking exercise after each presentation. Course evaluations revealed that the new seminar series was considered to be as effective as established courses within the department. On a scale from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, students learned to value new viewpoints [4.2 ± 0.8 (mean ± SD)], related what they learned in class to their own experiences (4.5 ± 0.8), and felt the course was a valuable contribution to their education (4.4 ± 0.9). Students suggested offering the course during fall semesters to incoming students, reinforcing of the critical thinking exercise, and making the course mandatory for first-year graduate students.
Kim Williams, Ellen T. Paparozzi and Jerry Maranville
As universities are required to “right-size,” faculty resources of time and expertise are strained as the institution must cater to undergraduate students while providing a complete graduate curriculum. Thus, many institutions are offering more team taught courses. For a new upper-level undergraduate and lower-level graduate course offering in Plant Nutrition and Nutrient Management, the team consists of faculty from two institutions who each bring different expertise into the classroom. The course utilized weekly chat room discussions to bring students into contact with experts from around the United States and the world. Two-way compressed video was used to allow for synchronous lecture delivery and discussion across sites. A Web site was created to facilitate student interaction and provide chat room access. Multiple student evaluations were conducted to separate learning objectives with the effectiveness of using technology. A flow-chart will be presented which details the steps and problems/accomplishments encountered in successfully delivering this course via distance technologies, including: funding procurement, determining technological compatibility across institutions, delineation of course content, Web page development, and course evaluations.
A new course, Topics in Home Horticulture, was developed at the Univ. of Missouri in Fall 1996. The course incorporated a mix of traditional lectures, hands-on laboratories, and technological teaching tools. Approximately 1/3 of the lectures were developed with computer presentation software; the remainder with slides or overhead transparencies. Class notes and some reading assignments were posted on the Internet. All students participated in a class e-mail discussion group. The course evaluation assessed students' use of and reactions to technological tools for the class. Students who used the Internet most frequently were more likely to agree that the class web pages enhanced learning. The greatest barrier to use of the Internet web pages was inconvenience of access. Students found the e-mail discussion group most helpful to get answers to questions outside class and to receive comments from peers. No strong preferences were expressed by students for type of lecture format. On a 5-point scale (1 = none to 5 = a lot), students' self-assessment of experience with the Internet as a result of the course increased 1.3 points, on average, while experience with e-mail increased 0.8 points. On the same scale, home horticulture knowledge gained was self-assessed to have increased by an average of 1.4 points.
Alice S. Waegel*
With grant funds for upgrading technology in undergraduate science laboratories, digital cameras and microscopes were acquired for use in undergraduate biology laboratories. The digital imaging equipment has been used to enhance student learning in both Bio 244 Plant Biology and Bio 480 Biology Independent Study. In the student research oriented independent study course, digital photo-microscopy with a Nikon Digital Still camera (DXM 1200) mounted on a Nikon Stereo-scopic Zoom microscope (SMZ800) was used to illustrate a research project involving the effect of mycorrhizae fungi on root development of the shining club moss Huperzia lucidula. Digital photomicrographs of fungi isolated from the roots of H. lucidula collected in the wild were included in the student researcher's final PowerPoint report on the experiment. In Bio 244 Plant Biology the digital imaging equipment was used in a tree identification project. Students took Nikon Coolpix 995 cameras to a local arboretum (Tyler Arboretum, Media, Pa.) where, after minimal instruction in camera operation, they took photographs of 10 trees for inclusion in a tree identification PowerPoint presentation. Each pair of students selected different trees from their peers, taking shots of overall habit, leaves, bark, and flowers/fruit if present. Photos were downloaded onto lab computers at the conclusion of the field trip. The students were then responsible for incorporating descriptive text and digital images into PowerPoint presentations shown to the class later in the semester. Students and professor participated in the grading process, using a rubric which students helped design. In the end of course evaluations, digital imaging projects were highly rated by students.
Kent D. Kobayashi
How do we enhance the learning experience of graduate students in scientific writing, an essential skill in their professional development? A graduate course TPSS 711 “Scientific Writing for Graduate Students” was developed to address this need. Its objectives were to help students write, analyze, and revise parts of a scientific paper; critically evaluate their own writing and the writings of others; and become familiar with types of publications. The diverse topics included purpose of scientific writing; organizing your writing; parts of a scientific paper; data analysis and growth analysis; writing the content of a poster or oral presentation; newspaper articles and popular works; extension publications; technical writing for the general public; thesis/dissertation writing; a journal editor's perspective; and reviewing a manuscript. TPSS 711 had an enrollment of 11 TPSS master's students. Students were in their second through fifth semesters of their graduate program. A student survey showed no student had submitted a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal, had a peer-reviewed article published, or had a newspaper, trade magazine, or popular work published. Only 9% of the students had a paper published in a conference proceedings or presented a scientific paper outside Hawaii, with only 18% having presented a paper in Hawaii. Writing assignments, in-class activities, and evaluations of the writings of others helped students gain intensive hands-on experience in scientific writing. As a course requirement, students submitted an abstract and presented a paper at our college's annual scientific symposium. Course evaluations indicated this course was important and valuable in helping enhance the students' learning experience.
N.O. Anderson and J.D. Walker
Setup and administration of comprehensive live plant identification (ID) tests in horticulture classes is time-consuming and costly. The curricular goal of this study was to integrate Web-based plant ID self-tests and computer-graded tests into floriculture potted plant production classes to potentially replace live plant ID tests. This research was conducted during 2000 and 2001 with students enrolled in Hort 4051 at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul. All plant ID tests were mandatory, constituting 12% of the grade. In 2000, only Web-based ID tests were used, while both Web-based and live plant ID tests were used in 2001. Two separate self-tests were designed as study aids with 34 randomized photographs/test. Correct spelling was mandatory to receive full credit for genus, species, and family. Self-tests could be taken ten times each per student. Students then completed two for-credit (graded), unmonitored Web-based tests. Students completed a Website evaluation form at the end of the semester. The two live plant ID tests were conducted with the same materials and were monitored. Mean student scores for the Web-based ID tests in 2000 ranged from 73.5 to 99.5% with a class average of 91.9%; there were no significant differencesamong students' scores. Student Web-based ID test scores for 2001 had a similar range with a high class average of 93.8%. In contrast, the 2001 live plant ID tests had a wider score range of 21.7% to 100.0% and lower class average (72.2%). Web-based and live plant ID tests, students, and their interaction were all highly significant. Web site course evaluations demonstrated interesting trends in student perception of Web-based and live plant testing. The implications for future class use and potential modifications for continued Web-based instruction are presented.
Rolston St. Hilaire and James M. Thompson
Strong linkages among 2-year community colleges and 4-year universities are likely to foster the transition of more students into higher education and enhance student diversity. Two New Mexico educational institutions, Doña Ana Branch Community College (a 2-year community college) and New Mexico State University (a 4-year university), offered a landscape construction class as a joint course offering for students at both institutions. The objective of this educational approach was to develop a system that facilitates the seamless integration of compatible curricula from a community college and a university. Course evaluations showed that 63% of students enrolled in the combined class rated the combining of a university and community college class as an above average or excellent model of education. When asked to rate whether classroom materials and laboratory activities supported learning, 94% of the class rated those materials as excellent. Eighty-eight percent of students rated the presentation of subject matter as above average or excellent when asked if the subject matter was presented in an interesting manner. Students valued the experiential learning projects and would highly recommend the course to their peers. In this redesigned course, women and minorities constituted 63% of the class, suggesting that this educational approach has the potential to retain a large number of underrepresented groups in landscape horticulture. We conclude that this collaborative approach for teaching landscape horticulture is likely to enhance horticultural education and foster a seamless educational experience for students who transition from a community college to a university. Also, this educational approach could serve as a model for curricula that combine practical knowledge with advances in science and technology.