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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Jabaily, Rachel [1], Fitz Gerald, Jonathan [2].

Bridging the gap between systematics and Arabidopsis- teaching integrative plant biology in a liberal arts setting.

Though both love plants, systematists and molecular geneticists studying Arabidopsis are often segregated in different areas at large universities, rarely interacting and potentially teaching different versions of basic curricula. To best prepare our students, an integrated approach to teaching plant biology is necessary that bridges both the organismal and molecular sides of the field. A liberal arts college is an ideal environment in which to develop innovative curricula because scholars from diverse fields are in close proximity, collaborating daily. In fall 2012, we combined our strengths in developmental genetics and plant evolution to develop and implement Plant Genetics & Diversity, a team-taught lecture and lab course for undergraduate students at Rhodes College. Our course design was based on an emergent properties model: from gene to cell to plant to world. Students were first introduced to the development and regulation of the angiosperm body through analysis of major molecular pathways and genes, paired with inquiry-based lab modules on hormone response and quantitative genetic analysis of recombinant inbred Arabidopsis lines. The student’s perspective of plants was then broadened to the evolution of plant diversity over time, introducing the major lineages of land plants, phylogenetic trees, and biogeography. Key innovations in the evolution of major phylogenetic groups were emphasized instead of covering multitudes of families. Students became familiar with the local flora through a collection and phenology project that expands the existing SWMT herbarium. Discussion of evo-devo studies throughout helped to integrate the course material. Student assessments of the course were positive and revealed unexpectedly that integration of all the material primarily happened in lab. This might suggest that the challenge of integrating the two major lecture portions for students with different academic backgrounds might be remediated through more active and project-based learning. The course curriculum, projects and assessments are discussed to provide a model for integrating the multifaceted areas of plant biology in the classroom.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Rhodes College, Botany, 2000 N. Parkway, Memphis, TN, 38112, USA
2 - Rhodes College, Biology , 2000 N. Parkway, Memphis, TN, 38112, USA

liberal arts.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 2
Location: Marlborough A/Riverside Hilton
Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM
Number: 2005
Abstract ID:413
Candidate for Awards:None

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