Agriculture: Integrative learning and a new network of agricultural educators

Tina Botwright Acuna, Amanda Able

Abstract


The core sciences that contribute to agriculture include biology, mathematics, chemistry and physics but our students must integrate and learn to apply their knowledge to agricultural problems in the context of any social, environmental or economic constraints. As such, the Threshold Learning Outcomes (TLOs) for Agriculture, although aligned with the TLOs for Science, also capture the contribution of other disciplines and emphasise transferable and applied skills that will allow graduates to contribute to a successful career in a wide range of roles (please see www.agltas.edu.au). This professional focus is often reflected within the activities and assessment tasks set by teachers. The recently published Good Practice Guide for the Agriculture TLOs highlights student-led inquiry and experiential learning, especially work integrated learning (WIL), in the Agriculture discipline. Currently, there is no forum for our discipline to discuss good teaching practice and the challenges facing agricultural educators. We are therefore establishing a national network to encourage the scholarship of learning and teaching for agricultural educators. The purpose of this workshop is two-fold:
1) To share and discuss examples of activities and assessment that develop integrative, multi-disciplinary knowledge and ability of students to solve complex problems; and;
2) To discuss the nature and purpose of the agriculture network.

Academics from other disciplines who have an interest in multidisciplinary teaching are welcome to join the workshop.

For more information, please contact either Tina Botwright Acuña (tina.acuna@utas.edu.au) or Amanda Able (amanda.able@adelaide.edu.au).


Dr Tina Botwright Acuña is a senior Lecturer and coordinator of the undergraduate agriculture degrees at the University of Tasmania. Tina successfully led the OLT-funded ‘A consensus approach to defining standards for learning outcomes and informing curricula design for Agriculture (AgLTAS)’ (see www.agltas.edu.au) and co-edited Good Practice Guide: Threshold Learning Outcomes for Agriculture. Tina was a Science and Mathematics Network of Australian University Educators (SaMnet) Scholar from 2011 to 2012. She was awarded a Vice Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning in 2014 by the University of Tasmania for leadership in assessment practice that enhances student learning outcomes and the development of national academic learning and teaching standards to inform curriculum design.

Professor Amanda Able was a member of the AgLTAS project team and co-edited Good Practice Guide: Threshold Learning Outcomes for Agriculture. Amanda is the Associate Dean (Curriculum) for the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Adelaide and teaches into the Agricultural Sciences and related disciplines. Her educational research is currently exploring the efficacy of small group discovery and WIL in the development of research skills and integrative knowledge. Amanda was awarded the Executive Dean's Excellence in Teaching Award in 2005, and the Australian Society of Plant Scientists Teaching Award in 2009. As the Molecular Plant Breeding CRC Education Program Leader (2003-2008), Amanda also led the team that developed the secondary school educational program Get into Genes (awarded the CRC Excellence and Innovation in Education Award in 2006).

Keywords


Agriculture network; Discipline Day; Integrative Learning

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