Abstract Detail



Education and Outreach

Allen, Sarah [1].

A learning experience: My first year as a Botany professor.

     The 2018-2019 academic year was my first as a full time faculty member. I teach most of the botany courses offered in my department, which this year included a 400 level plant taxonomy course, a 100 level introductory botany course, and a 100 level economic botany course. Penn State Altoona does not offer a plant biology or plant science major, although both are offered at the University Park campus.
     I introduced the term “plant blindness” on the first day of class in all three courses. No one had heard of it before, but students were intrigued and it was a good way to start the semester. On course feedback, one student wrote, “I think I had plant blindness before, and now I am able to better identify and appreciate plants.”
     Most students taking the plant taxonomy course were seniors majoring in biology or environmental studies. Unfortunately, it is a three credit lecture-only course, but I added an optional mini-lab for the first third of the semester when fresh material was available. I also acquired a small collection of greenhouse plants. By the end of the semester, I had covered 104 Spermatophyte families. Although there was never a cumulative assessment that included all families, students regularly expressed feeling overwhelmed.  
     The introductory botany course was primarily underclassman, and included students planning to major in plant science and agriculture. It is a 3 credit course with two 50 minute lectures and one two hour lab per week and has no prerequisites. One of my biggest challenges was covering the subject matter I felt was essential in less than two lecture hours per week.    
     The economic botany course is currently offered as a non-majors gen ed class. It was a struggle to connect with non-science students on a day-to-day basis, but they appreciated having small, graded, in-class activities to break up the lecture. Students in all three courses commented that the amount of information and the pace at which it was covered was challenging.
     I am looking for feedback and suggestions from an experienced botanical audience. What has worked well for you? Am I trying to cover too much? What do your students really enjoy? What ways have you found to connect with those who are not inherently interested in botany?


1 - Penn State Altoona, 206 Hawthorn, 3000 Ivyside Park, Altoona, PA, 16601, United States

Keywords:
plant taxonomy
introductory botany
economic botany
undergraduate teaching
botany education
plant blindness.

Presentation Type: Poster This poster will be presented at 5:30 pm. The Poster Session runs from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Posters with odd poster numbers are presented at 5:30 pm, and posters with even poster numbers are presented at 6:15 pm.
Number: PEO009
Abstract ID:582
Candidate for Awards:None


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