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 Classroom in Stuttgart with Li-Fi of Fraunhofer HHI opened
03.11.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

nachricht Starting school boosts development
11.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>