The Value of Student-led Field Trials for Agronomic Industry Training


  • Sarita Jane Bennett Curtin University
  • Susan Gai Low University of New England



Maximising student employability on graduation by ensuring they have the discipline knowledge as well as the ‘soft skills’ required by employers is an important focus of university courses. Following completion of an Agribusiness or Agricultural Science degree, many students enter the workforce in industries where they are required to run their own field trials to test new products or varieties, or to research agronomic best practise. One of the approaches highlighted in this paper is to incorporate Work Integrated Learning (WIL), including authentic assessment, into unit learning outcomes where the practical component of a unit is focused on developing industry required skills, such as field trial management, data collection, analysis and report writing, as well as embedding core discipline knowledge. Students, working in small groups, are required to run their own research field trial over a semester, having been guided to develop their research question based on a current industry issue on a pre-sown crop, identify the measurements required to answer the question, and then plan their semester. At the end of the semester, the students present their work to the class and submit a conference-style research paper. Success is measured in relation to a clear hypothesis, measurements and analysis that addresses their hypothesis, and results related to the industry issue. Anecdotal feedback from students is that they enjoy the experience and responsibility of running their own trials, are able to add a skill to their curriculum vitae, and have increased confidence in their ability when entering the industry. The aim of this paper is to present an example of unit-level WIL, including authentic assessment that contains the application of discipline skills in crop science.






Curriculum development and innovation