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Integrating digital teaching tools and discovery learning in Plant Physiology courses ...

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Uploaded on Feb 10, 2012

Burkhard Schulz, Assistant Professor, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University

Cornell University Department of Horticulture seminar series, Feb. 6, 2012

The development of educational videos enhances the student's ability to learn and appreciate plant biology. Most of the video projects were generated with significant input from undergraduate students. The production process and use of student-produced videos to augment plant physiology labs will be presented. The project addresses the diverse student composition participating in plant physiology courses at Purdue University.

Goals that should be addressed with the use of video material is to close the knowledge gap of students with less experience in experimentation while still challenging students who are already familiar with methodology. The idea is to translate basic scientific information into language that appeals to the students and engages them in a discourse with the lab material through use of popular culture and visually stimulating instruction. A built-in "cool factor" through fast cuts, a stimulating musical score and frames within frames creates a high paced flow of information. The stimulating element of audio/visuals that is very common and comprehensible within students allows to convey information in novel ways. Using the material in informal teaching and learning situations such as the AG discovery camp of HASA at Purdue, GERI summer camps, 4H summer workshops and FFA campus visits allowed us to test the usefulness of the material in a context other than a traditional plant physiology course. The material is made available through websites and social media. This opens up new paths for communicating and learning about plant science and increases scientific literacy in general. High school students and undergraduate students benefit from a discovery learning experience in their own research projects. The graduate students and undergraduates involved in all steps of conceptualizing and producing the media gain a unique expertise in fields not part of their traditional curricula.

To generate scientific evidence, students have to be able to translate observations into model building and reviewing existing models and hypotheses. This includes experiment design and data analysis to come to sensible conclusions about the experimental results. To generate a hands-on experience of discovery learning, we engaged undergraduate students in active research projects supervised by graduate students. Results of these interactions serve as building blocks of research projects as well as motivational enhancers to familiarize students with the process of scientific experimentation.

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