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- PublicationBenefits of Scenario-based Learning in university educationAs an applied science, horticulture is particularly suited to interactive teaching and learning methods. Much of the undergraduate learning in horticulture is passive; therefore, more active learning strategies should be introduced. One such active learning technique is scenario-based learning (SBL). This form of learning allows students to apply academic knowledge to a simulated 'real-life' situation. It is particularly suited to promoting group participation and learning. Its use provides students with the opportunity to recognise and solve problems, to think critically and to develop teamwork skills. Recently, an SBL project was introduced to the Fruit Production (HORT30190) undergraduate module at University College Dublin. In order to implement the project, the class was divided into groups and each group was required to establish a hypothetical commercial dessert, culinary or cider apple orchard in Ireland. The groups were required to consider site characteristics, growing and pruning systems, rootstocks, cultivars, pollinator selection and planting density. They presented their results in class using posters and submitted a personal learning journal associated with the project, both of which were assessed by staff. Student response to the SBL project was evaluated for benefits such as increased understanding of course material, acquisition of transferable skills and enjoyment of the learning method. This project is an example of formative assessment in action. Scenario-based learning allows students to contextualise learning while acquiring transferable skills. It is suitable for implementation in a wide range of diverse university modules.
Scopus© Citations 1 913
- PublicationTeaching and assessment strategies for active student learning in university horticultural educationMany of the goals of the university teacher today are to enthuse, drive and challenge students academically, intellectually and personally; to advance their capacity for critical thinking, judgement and communication; and to equip them with sufficient scientific and technical knowledge to make them competent horticultural practitioners. Given that most programme modules are delivered by lectures, there is general consensus that student learning is primarily passive. Similarly, module assessment tends to be summative. Thus, student-centred learning to foster an environment for active learning and encourage greater student class participation was introduced into a horticulture module (Nursery Production and Management HORT 40090). Similarly, formative assessment methods were also introduced. To this end, a segment of the above module relating to vegetative plant propagation was selected. The students were asked to work in self selected groups to thoroughly research the different aspects of the topic and to prepare a short PowerPoint slide presentation for delivery to the class. Additionally, they were required to peer assess each presentation and to agree a suitable grade with staff members in attendance. It is considered that the introduction of active learning and formative assessment to the module resulted in more meaningful learning for the students concerned and moved them higher up the student-centred learning curve towards more, responsibility and accountability. The concept is being gradually rolled out to other modules.
542Scopus© Citations 1
- PublicationIntroducing landscape design techniques to horticulture studentsStudents majoring in Horticulture Landscape and Sportsturf Management take an introductory module in Landscape Design. During a seven week period through a series of lectures, studio based graphic and design exercises, and site visits students are introduced to landscape design principles. Following an introduction to garden history each student prepares a precedent study based on the work of an international landscape designer. Furthermore, they must prepare a domestic or commercial landscape design plan. In the last academic year the class was invited to develop landscape design proposals for Beech Hill College in Monaghan. Ordnance survey maps of the site were obtained in preparation for the site visit and meeting with the School Principal who outlined the specific requirements. The students were sub-divided into three working groups and assigned a specific area of the school campus to survey and evaluate existing vegetation. Each student created design proposals, drew cross sections and a planting plan for their areas. At the end of the semester each student presented their work to peers, staff and the School Principal and was given immediate feedback. Student response to the project was highly positive and in comparison to previous years, the design proposals were suitable for implementation. Students participated in individual and group work, developed critical thinking skills, presentation skills, and all transferable skills required of university graduates. Engaging in a 'live' project for a school campus emphasised their contribution to a local community. The students have been invited to return and to further develop the site.