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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 641: XXVI International Horticultural Congress: The Knowledge Business: Horticulture Education and Knowledge Transfer

EFFECT OF INTERACTIVITY AND LEARNING STYLE ON DEVELOPING HANDS-ON HORTICULTURAL SKILLS VIA DISTANCE LEARNING

Authors:   K. Hennigan, K.W. Mudge
Keywords:   grafting, psychomotor skills, distance education, asynchronous education, face-to-face interaction
Abstract:
One of the significant challenges facing horticultural distance education is developing effective strategies for teaching hands-on skills. An asynchronous web/CD-based course, “The How, When and Why of Grafting”, was used as a vehicle to evaluate two pedagogical variables related to teaching the hands-on horticultural skill of grafting to non-traditional students. In collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension, we worked with Extension Educators in five counties to enlist an audience of amateur gardeners. The 10-week course was delivered on two separate occasions to a total of 67 students. The two pedagogical variables evaluated in this experiment were type of student/instructor interaction and student learning style. Interaction involved either entirely asynchronous, non-facilitated instruction (text, pictures, video, and discussion board) or the asynchronous components in addition to a 3 hour face-to-face (facilitated), hands-on grafting session with the instructor. Learning styles were evaluated and students were classified as either active or reflective learners. The experimental design was a Randomized Complete Design with four treatments in a 2x2 complete factorial arrangement of the two types of interaction (+/- facilitation) and the two learning styles. Hibiscus plants, grafting knives, and other grafting supplies were provided to the students for the grafting lab exercises. Students and instructors independently evaluated student grafts after four weeks based on pre-defined criteria of grafting success. Analysis of student self-evaluation was there were no significant effects of facilitation or of learning style, indicating that students could effectively learn to graft at a distance regardless of learning style or the absence of face-to-face instructor interaction.
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