Society for Economic Botany

Return to search results | New search

Title of Abstract: Society for Economic Botany

Name of Author: Gail Wagner
Author Company or Institution: University of South Carolina
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development
Approaches: Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: open source, curriculum, ethnobiology, assessment, teacher development

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Goals: (1) to improve undergraduate teaching excellence; (2) model how interdisciplinarity may enhance science education; (3) provide open-source, online, peer-reviewed ethnobiological teaching and assessment materials so that even isolated faculty can join a network of other faculty. Outcomes: We produced a 2013 document called Vision & Change in Undergraduate Ethnobiology Education in the U.S.A.: Recommended Curriculum Assessment Guidelines. Since 2009, we have increased the number and variety of our modules; we are currently increasing our peer reviews of existing modules; we have increased the number and variety of instructors we have directly impacted with workshops (e.g., inclusion of community college instructors), and we have increased our advertisement to/work with other societies (e.g., ESA, SoE, ISE). Our network is becoming more international in scope.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: We hold hands-on teaching workshops in conjunction with professional society conferences. We provide open-source online teaching modules that range from single lesson plans to classroom tools to entire courses. We have just developed a new DRD web portal in conjunction with other societies. We invite peer and student review of modules with the aim to improve and diversify our offerings. Our 2013 document V&C in Ethnobiology, which is modeled on the AAAS V&C, proposes guidelines for developing an ethnobiology curriculum. We include an education column in our twice-yearly societal newsletter. We support student membership and attendance at our conference with reduced rates, and full members are invited to support a new online student membership for the very low rate of $10. At our societal conference we mentor students to become professionals.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: We conduct pre- and post-assessments of our teacher workshops. We conduct surveys to study our own network. We garner informal feedback from participants or people who have used our online materials.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: In late June 2013, we began distribution of our document V&C in Ethnobiology, modeled on the original V&C. Based on the reactions of conference participants, we anticipate that our document will provide the framework for the development of undergraduate ethnobiology education not just in America, but around the world. Informally, we hear from isolated instructors how much we have helped them develop curriculum and improve teaching strategies.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: At present, only two universities offer majors in ethnobotany and none in ethnobiology. Given that SEB is a professional society with impermanent officers and committee members, and that we are very interdisciplinary rather than associated with one discipline, our impact is with individual instructors rather than departments or institutions (other than the two mentioned). And it is only through our instructors that we can assess impact to their students. However, according to OSN surveys/assessments, our impact on individual instructors (who otherwise felt isolated in their departments) is major in furthering V&C teaching recommendations. Given that the majority of our societal membership is not American and that we are an international society, it is difficult to involve and mentor undergraduate students when we meet outside of the U.S.A., as we do every several years. It will always remain difficult to involve undergraduate students in our conferences, but we do reach their instructors.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: In late June 2013 we opened a new online DRD web portal for posting open-source educational materials. The Society for Economic Botany is an organizational member of the Open Science Network and will continue to work on OSN online materials and societal teaching workshops. The V&C in Ethnobiology document is posted on the OSN web page.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to the team from the Open Science Network.