The Development of Student Research Skills in Second Year Plant Biology

Beth R. Loveys, Brent N. Kaiser, Glenn McDonald, Olena Kravchuk, Matthew Gilliham, Steve Tyerman, Amanda J. Able

Abstract


In 2011, students in Agricultural Sciences and Viticulture & Oenology were first provided with opportunities to develop research skills in plant biology through the course Foundations in Plant Science II. Students worked in small groups and completed an open-ended research project under the guidance of an academic mentor. Each group of students were given the freedom to plan and manage an experiment; collect, analyse and interpret data independently and to present their results both orally and in writing. Students reported that the group project was a positive experience where they were able to develop skills in scientific report writing. In 2012, students were challenged by aspects of the research project including experimental design and identifying published papers to support their hypotheses. In 2013, when we provided more support and structure using on-line and in-class tutorials, students were better able to work in groups, source appropriate literature and analyse data using statistics as their confidence in research and questioning ideas had improved.

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