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Abstract Detail

Education and Outreach

Waselkov, Katherine [1].

"Wait, plants have insides?" Leading an undergraduate plant anatomy class from basics to independent research in one semester.

Numerous science education studies have shown the value of incorporating research into college curriculum, for a multitude of reasons. Experimental research is often emphasized; however, descriptive research is more practical for some disciplines and can be equally valuable. In Fall 2017, undergraduate students in Biol 140 Plant Anatomy at California State University, Fresno, completed 8-week long independent projects focused on the anatomy of California native plants. Because all undergraduates were initially unfamiliar with plant anatomy, the first half of the semester was spent learning how to recognize basic anatomical structures. The first eight guided labs used a combination of prepared slides and fresh material obtained from the grocery store or commercial gardening center. Students learned how to prepare thin sections from fresh material by hand, using double-edged razor blades and various easy-to-use stains such as toluidine blue O and cresyl violet acetate. They mounted these sections in water and observed them under standard light microscopes, following procedures outlined in Peterson et al. (2008) and Keating (2014). Students in Biol 140 used the technical skills and anatomical expertise they gained the first half of the class to conduct original anatomical research projects on a native California species of their choice. They took a field trip to a nearby ecological reserve to collect their own material and observe the species in nature; then they made freehand sections and anatomical observations of the roots, stems, and leaves, and interpreted their results using primary literature on the anatomy of related species. Finally, the students synthesized their findings in 10-minute oral presentations to the class, where they were charged with relating the anatomy of the species to its ecology. Results varied depending on student effort and also choice of species: future iterations of the course will be revised to provide a more effective, but still genuine, research experience.

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1 - California State University, Fresno, Biology Department, M/S SB73, 2555 E. San Ramon Ave., Science 1, Fresno, CA, 93740, United States

undergraduate research.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 17, Contributed Papers: Education and Outreach I
Location: 104/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
Time: 9:15 AM
Number: 17006
Abstract ID:947
Candidate for Awards:None

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