President's Symposia - Understanding the Crisis in Science Literacy: The BSA is Planting Science in the 21st Century
Uno, Gordon .
Botanical literacy: what should people know about plants?
Who should possess knowledge about plants and what are the consequences of a botanically illiterate student population and society? At the high school level, one major source of botanical information is textbooks, however, examples for major biological concepts are most often drawn from animals, including humans, and less frequently from plants. An analysis of the best-selling high school biology texts revealed that an average of only six of 43 chapters per text is devoted to the study of “plants,” but this includes chapters on algae, biomes, and photosynthesis. In these texts, 42% of the chapters deals with animals and 37% concentrates on general biological principles and concepts that apply to both plants and animals, such as cellular respiration (although plants were not always discussed in these sections). For many teachers, about 75% of classroom time and 90% of homework assignments are related to textbook material, and because teachers rarely receive training about plants, they use plants less frequently as examples of natural phenomena or as laboratory subjects. In addition, over 50% of all college students now receive their biology education at a community college, and at these institutions, botanists are being quickly replaced by biologists with different backgrounds. Other evidence has measured student and teacher disinterest in plants as a subject to study, which compounds the problem, but several possible solutions to these problems have been suggested by a number of botanists. I recommend that the Botanical Society of America join with colleagues in other plant-related societies to create a “Thinking Botanically” project in which we provide instructors at all levels with plant examples and plant-related activities that can be used to illustrate all biological concepts. In this way, botany is infused throughout a biology course, and information about, interest in, and literacy of plants might increase in our classrooms.
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1 - University of Oklahoma, Department of Botany and Microbiology, 770 Van Vleet Oval, Norman, Oklahoma, 73019, USA
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Location: 182/I K Barber
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
Time: 3:55 PM