Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hands-On: From Classroom to Employment

12.02.2010
How to energize and enrich the next generation of sustainable agriculturalists

Academic programs and courses have increased in recent years for sustainable agriculture, organic farming, and agroecology. In a recent study published in the 2010 volume of the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, researchers from Cornell University and North Carolina State University sought to bring hands-on learning activities and experiential learning, which are often a part of for-credit coursework, to employment settings.

“Many students discover their interest in sustainable agriculture late in their undergraduate career,” says Dr. Julie Grossman, an assistant professor in the Soil Science Department at North Carolina State University and lead author of the study. “This leaves little time for them to make a drastic shift in undergraduate program or coursework in order to learn more about this applied field. New approaches are needed to engage these latecomers in real sustainable agriculture learning opportunities.”

Research laboratories in sustainable agriculture typically hire undergraduate students to perform routine lab work. In order to develop a broader understanding of the role research plays in the greater agricultural context, the researchers developed a pilot study to include hands-on learning opportunities in addition to their normal lab duties.

“Students, whose laboratory work involves little more than washing glassware or repetition of routine procedures, very often develop a negative attitude towards research. On the other hand, the reality of much of modern laboratory science is that it involves a lot of routine, repetitive work. There is a real tension between producing the data and keeping the students motivated and interested in research,” explains Maya Patel, a graduate student in Education at Cornell University and second author of the study. “Students minds need to be engaged, as well as their hands, if we want them to truly develop a sense of the nature of scientific work.”

The researchers looked at two consecutive years of the Sustainable Agriculture Scholars (SAS) Program, supported by a USDS-CSREES grant. Three students each year spent four days a week performing routine lab work, and classroom-based facilitated presentation/discussionwith professionals, or a field trip to an organic farm. The fifth work day was dedicated to student-designed service projects, ranging from working in a children’s garden to designing composting systems for local public schools.

The goals of the program were threefold: to further students’ understanding of sustainable agricultural research, increase their interest in careers in sustainable agriculture, and use community service as a vehicle for learning. Based on post-project interviews and focus groups, the research team found that visits to organic farms were most important to linking agricultural research practice.

“The farm visits definitely made the lab work seem more meaningful,” said one student. “We could see within the lab and in our work with different farms...how the information that was provided from our research was going to go back to the farms, what they were going to do with it, and how they were going to make management choices for their farms.”

Ultimately, four of the six participants expressed an increased interest in sustainable agriculture after the SAS program. Sustainable agriculture tends to attract students from diverse disciplines and majors, and the researchers suggest that the SAS program outlines approaches that can be used to increase enthusiasm in students and increase the effectiveness of academic programs and future professionals.

The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at http://www.jnrlse.org/view/2010/e09-0017n.pdf. After 30 days it will be available at the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education website, www.jnrlse.org. Go to http://www.jnrlse.org/issues/ (Click on the Year, "View Article List," and scroll down to article abstract).

Today's educators are looking to the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, http://www.jnrlse.org, for the latest teaching techniques in the life sciences, natural resources, and agriculture. The journal is continuously updated online during the year and one hard copy is published in December by the American Society of Agronomy.

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) www.agronomy.org, is a scientific society helping its 8,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of member services.

Sara Uttech | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.agronomy.org/news-media/releases/2010/0211/322/

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Trees and climate change: Faster growth, lighter wood
14.08.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Animals and fungi enhance the performance of forests
01.08.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>