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Abstract Detail

Systematics Section/ASPT

Kirchoff, Bruce [1], Burrows, Geoffrey [2].

Teaching Plant Identification in Australia: Active Learning-Agricultural Plants of the Riverina.

Faculty on the Wagga Wagga campus of Charles Sturt University have developed an number of on-line teaching tools to help agriculture students and agronomists learn plant identification. Although over 80% of the entering students come from rural backgrounds, they begin their studies with relatively low abilities to recognize species of agricultural importance. The latest of these teaching tools is a stand-alone application based on Woody Plants of the Southeastern United States: A Field Botany Course on CD (WPSEUS). Like WPSEUS, Active Learning - Agricultural Plants of the Riverina (AL-APR) uses techniques drawn from cognitive psychology to help users become visual experts in plant recognition. Unlike visual novices, visual experts are able to recognize patterns. AL-APR helps students achieve this mastery in a fraction of the time that would be required in a identification course that was only conducted in the field. Although the basic study, quiz,and test routines of AL-APR are the same as in WPSEUS, the user interface has been considerably modified to allow easier selection of taxa. Group selection allows the user to select images by course number, whether or not the plant is a member of the core taxa for a specific course, the origin (native versus exotic) of the taxon, its growth form, and its use (crop, weed, etc.). Species selection by family allows the user to select all of the species in the specified families with a minimal number of mouse clicks. Taxa may be selected either by scientific or common name. The search function allows searches on any character string found in a genus or common name, and the addition of any of the results to the study set. Like WPSEUS, VL-APR comes with a powerful scripting interface that allows instructors to create custom study sessions for their students. The study sessions, or scripts, can be given to the students through a content delivery system like Blackboard. When run on the student's computer, the scripts track student use and create grading files that can be used to assign a grade to each assignment. As in WPSEUS, the program and scripts are intended to be used as homework. They allow the student to make the most effective use of class time by moving the practice intensive work of becoming a visual expert out of the classroom and into the student's own time, where it belongs.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - University Of North Carolina At Greensboro, Department Of Biology, PO BOX 26170, GREENSBORO, NC, 27402-6170, USA, 919-304-2991
2 - Charles Sturt University, School Of Ag & Wine Sciences, Locked Bag 588, Wagga Wagga NSW, N/A, 2678, Australia

plant identification
visual learning
active learning
crop plants

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 47
Location: Union C/Hyatt
Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Time: 10:30 AM
Number: 47007
Abstract ID:699

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