Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Creative, online learning tool helps students tackle real-world problems

12.04.2011
Solving problems for clients in any field usually requires gathering information and creative thinking that leads to practical and inventive solutions.

A new computer interface developed at Iowa State University is helping students use what they've learned in the horticulture classroom and apply it to problems they'll face when they are on the job site.

The project, called ThinkSpace, is led by a group of ISU faculty including Ann Marie VanDerZanden, professor of horticulture and associate director of ISU's Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.

ThinkSpace has many different features that make it an effective way to teach using ill-structured problems. This type of problem allows students to choose from multiple paths to arrive at a solution.

By contrast, well-structured problems have a straight path to the one, clear solution.

In horticulture, the ThinkSpace platform is being used for upper-level classes and requires students to access what they've learned throughout their time studying horticulture and apply it to real-world problems.

In these classes, VanDerZanden gives students computer-delivered information about residential landscape.

That information includes illustrations of the work site, descriptions of the trees on the property, explanations of the problems the homeowner is experiencing, mock audio interview files with the property owner, and about anything else a horticulture professional would discover when approaching a homeowner with a landscape problem.

Also, just like in real life, some of the information is relevant to the problem, and some information is not.

"It forces students to take this piece of information, and that piece of information, and another piece of information, and then figure out what is wrong – in this case with a plant," said VanDerZanden.

When the students think they have determined the problem, they enter their responses into the online program.

VanDerZanden can then check the responses.

For those students on the right track, she allows them to continue toward a solution.

For those who may have misdiagnosed the situation, VanDerZanden steers the students toward the right track before allowing them to move forward.

So far, the response from students has been very positive.

"The students like the variety," said VanDerZanden. "They like struggling with real-world problems, rather that something that is just made up. On the other hand, they can get frustrated because there is not a clear-cut answer."

The entire process leverages the classroom experience into something the students can use at work.

"I think this really enhances student learning," said VanDerZanden. "Students apply material from previous classes to a plausible, real-world situation. For instance students see what happens when a tree was pruned really hard to allow a piece of equipment to get into the customer's yard. As a result, the tree sends out a lot of new succulent shoots, and then there is an aphid infestation in the tree. It helps students start making all of those connections."

The ThinkSpace interface was developed from existing technologies already being used in ISU's College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Engineering and department of English.

VanDerZanden and her group recently received a $446,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Higher Education Challenge Grant program to further develop ThinkSpace so it could more useful to other academic areas and universities.

As part of this research, VanDerZanden is also working with faculty members at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Kansas State University, Manhattan.

Ann Marie VanDerZanden | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht Decision-making research in children: Rules of thumb are learned with time
19.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht Young people discover the "Learning Center"
20.09.2016 | Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering GmbH

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>