About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5926-5936
Publication year: 2010
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain

GETTING TO ACTIVE LEARNING IN BOTANY: AN APPROACH USING CASE-STUDIES

I. Draper, B. Estébanez

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (SPAIN)
Botany is a compulsory second-year subject in the Biology degree at the Faculty of Sciences, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM). Almost all our students arrive with poor background knowledge. In addition, only a few show a priori a positive interest in the subject. Botany is mostly viewed as an out-of-date, theoretical and boring discipline, a quite surprising perception for an ever-changing, quickly progressing science, focusing on plant biodiversity.

The present situation at our Faculty, now implementing the Bologna reform, is a unique opportunity for teachers to think over what is essential for a biologist to know about plants, and to reflect on our own misconceptions regarding both contents and methods. Most importantly, it allows us to cut-across the lack of motivation of our students, introducing new methods for their participation in the spirit of active learning in order to facilitate them achieving the knowledge goals we set.

We present here a proposal for the students to undertake a research on case studies involving an important theoretical background requirement. The case studies would revolve around attractive issues, either because of their content, possible applications, or current controversial status.

Students would perform a bibliographic and/or practical research on these issues. In their search for an answer to questions arousing their interest, they would acquire the theoretical and less attractive botanical foundations that we have previously identified as essential.

The teachers involved would take an active part in supervising and leading the processes of the activities and their final presentation, in order to ascertain the scientific rigor and the mastering of the basic abilities and contents intended.

Once the research is completed, the results would be presented for an open discussion in different possible forums: classroom debates, symposia in the faculty context, exhibitions, etc. Depending on the issues involved and the type of final presentation of the results, these forums could be addressed not only to the students themselves, but also to students of other courses, faculty members, the whole university community, or different scientific or general publics.

As examples for analysis and implementation, we propose in this presentation the following case studies:

- Why is severing an arm or a leg from an animal much more destructive than cutting a branch from a tree?
- Why are fungi, flowers and insects so numerous?
- Not so passive, not so indefense. Plant strategies in hostile environments.
- Transportation and colonization without self-mobility. Pollination and seed dispersal strategies.
- Focusing on… [This proposal is open to study the characterization and diversification of any vegetal group]

For each of these case studies we present the analysis of:

- The basic concepts to be mastered.
- The activities and methodologies involved in the research: bibliographic searches, hands-on activities, internet chats and forums, open and supervised discussions, etc.
- The possible modalities of presentation.
- The capacities to be enhanced throughout this process, and other possible benefits in other contexts, in- and outside University.
@InProceedings{DRAPER2010GET,
author = {Draper, I. and Est{\'{e}}banez, B.},
title = {GETTING TO ACTIVE LEARNING IN BOTANY: AN APPROACH USING CASE-STUDIES},
series = {4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2010 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-5538-9},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {8-10 March, 2010},
year = {2010},
pages = {5926-5936}}
TY - CONF
AU - I. Draper AU - B. Estébanez
TI - GETTING TO ACTIVE LEARNING IN BOTANY: AN APPROACH USING CASE-STUDIES
SN - 978-84-613-5538-9/2340-1079
PY - 2010
Y1 - 8-10 March, 2010
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2010 Proceedings
SP - 5926
EP - 5936
ER -
I. Draper, B. Estébanez (2010) GETTING TO ACTIVE LEARNING IN BOTANY: AN APPROACH USING CASE-STUDIES, INTED2010 Proceedings, pp. 5926-5936.
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