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Abstract:

Numerous studies and commissions have called for undergraduate education reform. While many criticize the system, few horticulture or agricultural education faculty have documented attempts at classroom experimentation with the dominant university teaching paradigm. This qualitative case study provided teacher/researchers a way to explore their students' and their own reactions to an interdisciplinary course based on experiential learning principles. Student focus group interviews, teacher debriefings, and classroom ethnographic techniques were used to gather data that provided a novel perspective on student/teacher interactions and perceptions of the experimental course. Students initially reported apprehension about the course's structure, but over time reacted favorably to experientially-based learning activities. They reported group activities requiring the acquisition of information and skills to be used for a productive purpose (e.g., teaching others, guiding tours) were the most effective in their learning. Students expressed concern with the shallow treatment of horticultural content and were confused by the professor(s) role as guide in the teaching/learning process. From the practitioner perspective, teacher/researchers believed the process of critical reflection on their own practice provided a mechanism to systematically analyze the merits of the experimental course.

 

Keywords:

horticulture, interdisciplinary course, future educators

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