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Title: Developing a pedagogy for reducing 'plant blindness'
Author: Stagg, B.
ISNI:       0000 0004 9356 0452
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2020
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Despite human dependence on them, inattention to plants or plant blindness is a well–known phenomenon in urban societies. This thesis investigates the efficacy of a suite of novel teaching approaches for botany with adults and children and considers how these published research–based resources can contribute to a pedagogy for reducing plant blindness, in conjunction with the existing literature. This research was based on a mixed methods design using knowledge tests, questionnaires and interviews. It focused on two themes: novel methods for learning taxonomy (digital keys, mnemonics, drawing and game–playing) and drama–based methods for learning reproduction and classification. The literature review examined the characteristics of plant blindness and its impacts on teaching and learning. The fundamental cause of plant blindness was shown to be diminished experience with plants in urban societies which leads to low interest in plants compared to animals. A majority of pedagogic studies were based on learning with live plants, many of which were inquiry-based learning. Half the studies included outdoor learning and half used digital learning approaches. A content analysis of published research using themes based on theories of embodied cognition, memory and positive affect found the textual data to be evenly distributed across all three themes. The pedagogic approaches promoted learning through elaborative techniques, instructional tools with high usability, multimedia experiences and emotional wellbeing. Drawing and keys favoured observation over other perceptual modes, whereas drama facilitated multisensory experience. The research identified physical and cognitive factors that may assist or impede learning. A theoretical contribution of the research was the application of memory theory to learning taxonomy, advancing our understanding of how the design of keys and mnemonics may assist retention. Drama studies enhanced our understanding of children’s attitudes to plants and how a brief intervention may address these.
Supervisor: Dillon, J. ; Lindsay, H. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Biology education ; Science education ; Plant blindness ; Botany education