Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Writing assignments boost critical thinking skills for landscape design students

Date:
April 1, 2011
Source:
American Society for Horticultural Science
Summary:
Higher-order thinking skills and the ability to integrate technical knowledge with practical applications are vital for employees, especially in today's challenging job market. Can reflective writing help undergraduate students develop these important skills? A new study offers evidence that the teaching method can be an effective technique to enhance students' critical thinking skills in technical courses.

Higher-order thinking skills and the ability to integrate technical knowledge with practical applications are vital for employees, especially in today's challenging job market. Can reflective writing help undergraduate students develop these important skills? A new study from Iowa State University offers evidence that the teaching method can be an effective technique to enhance students' critical thinking skills in technical courses.

Dr. Ann Marie VanDerZanden is preparing students in her horticulture classes for challenging careers by boosting their critical thinking capacity. "Horticulture graduates entering the field of landscape design and installation must be able to integrate technical skills with practical applications.

This requires higher-order thinking skills such as analysis and synthesis," VanDerZanden explained. The Iowa State University professor designed a curriculum that integrates reflective writing into a landscape design course and discovered that students' quiz scores increased significantly after they completed the writing exercises.

Landscape design and installation is a fast-growing and profitable segment of the horticulture industry. As the profession becomes more sophisticated, the demand for employees who can integrate technical knowledge with practical application increases. "Providing opportunities for students to develop these skills is an essential part of their undergraduate education," said VanDerZanden. "Research suggests that reflective writing can be an effective teaching method in agriculture-related fields."

In a report published in HortTechnology, VanDerZanden evaluated the effectiveness of using reflective writing assignments in her Beginning Garden Composition class, a two-credit course at Iowa State that covers the basics of landscape design. For the first assignment, students were asked to describe a selected landscape image using as much detail as possible. The second assignment required students to describe how the seven principles of design, which were previously discussed in class, were evidenced in the landscape image, and for the third assignment students described how historical garden eras influenced the selected image. The assignments were designed to encourage students to write about technical content covered in the course while drawing from their background and experiences.

To evaluate the impact of the writing assignments, VanDerZanden compared students' scores on an 18-point quiz question from two years of classes when the reflective writing assignments were not part of the course and three years when the assignments were used (for a total of 110 students). She found that scores on the quiz question increased significantly for the students who completed the reflective writing assignments (average of 16.2 out of 18) compared with students who did not complete the assignments as part of the course (average 10.2 out of 18). As a result of the significant increase in scores, two additional reflective writing assignments were added to the course in 2010.

VanDerZanden noted that the use of reflective writing assignments can be incorporated into any technical course. "This method of teaching provides an opportunity for the instructor and students to approach a technical subject in a creative and engaging way," she concluded.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ann Marie Vanderzanden. Reflective Writing as an Assessment for Student Analysis and Synthesis Ability in a Landscape Design Course. HortTechnology, 2011 [link]

Cite This Page:

American Society for Horticultural Science. "Writing assignments boost critical thinking skills for landscape design students." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110401161504.htm>.
American Society for Horticultural Science. (2011, April 1). Writing assignments boost critical thinking skills for landscape design students. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110401161504.htm
American Society for Horticultural Science. "Writing assignments boost critical thinking skills for landscape design students." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110401161504.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Spouse's Personality May Influence Your Earnings

Your Spouse's Personality May Influence Your Earnings

Newsy (Sep. 26, 2014) Research from Washington University suggest people with conscientious spouses have greater career success. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can A Blood Test Predict Psychosis Risk?

Can A Blood Test Predict Psychosis Risk?

Newsy (Sep. 26, 2014) Researchers say certain markers in the blood can predict risk of psychosis later in the life. The test can aid in early treatment for the condition. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Harpist Soothes Gorillas, Orangutans With Music

Harpist Soothes Gorillas, Orangutans With Music

AP (Sep. 25, 2014) Teri Tacheny, a harpist, has a loyal following of fans who appreciate her soothing music. Every month, gorillas, orangutans and monkeys amble down to hear her play at the Como Park Zoo in Minnesota. (Sept. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins