Becoming Botanists: Intensive experiential active learning in Botany (Catherine's Story) Faculty Story - View, reflect and apply
Last updated on 01/10/2019
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Professor Catherine Pickering inspires students to make meaningful connections between complex theoretical concepts and practical learning experiences during her intensive mode botany course.See the full faculty story here
'I am currently teaching the second year botany course in intensive mode, which offers a lot of opportunities and benefits for the students, but also some challenges. The material they are engaging with can seem dry and so the intensive course is specifically designed to support them to give them theoretical and practical knowledge relevant to their personal context so that each learner can make sense of botany in relation to their understanding of their personal physical environment.'
‘The main challenge I face is how best to inspire a student who may not start out interested,’ says Professor Pickering. ‘No matter how passionately I feel about teaching and learning about the natural world, many students start out not seeing the relevance for their learning journey.’
Professor Pickering believes the key to igniting a passion for botany and ecology is to help her students make meaningful connections between complex theoretical concepts and practical learning experiences. Central to her approach is the integration of lecture-based theoretical knowledge with on-campus excursions, detailed investigations in laboratories and field trips. Her aim is to ‘make use of the campus and city as a living laboratory’ and in doing so, support each learner to understand the evolution of the local plant life; and ‘to understand why the plants are there, what controls where they are and what they do for us, and how they interact with the rest of the environment.’
This approach supports students to make personalised sense of their impact on the world around them and consider the practices that humans might adopt to better support their ecological environment.
There has been significant student success and increased passionate engagement with the unique Australian ecology as a result of this course and its design. Students now travel from across the globe to student ecology, environmental science and botany at Griffith University.
Some select student feedback:
"Professor Pickering is very engaging in lectures and tells interesting stories that help you understand the concepts being taught. Bringing in different types of plants allowed you to see it for real in life and allowed you to understand its function and structure better"
"CP is fantastic. Her passion for Botany is both evident and infectious. Her lectures are always entertaining and she explains things in ways that are easy to understand and memorable. You can tell she genuinely wants all of her students to do well"
If you would like to embed an approach like this into your teaching practice, contact your Blended Learning Advisor, Educational Designer or Learning Futures to discuss how they can help.
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Becoming Botanists: Intensive experiential active learning in Botany (Catherine's Story). Retrieved from https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/exlnt/entry/4588/view(2019).