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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Davis, E. Christine [1].

Assessing the severity of “plant blindness” in undergraduate introductory biology students.

“Plant blindness” is defined as the inability to notice plants or to recognize their biological importance, the inability to appreciate their beauty and uniqueness, and the tendency to rank them as inferior to animals (Wandersee and Schussler 1999). Most plant biologists perceive plant blindness as a real phenomenon, whether caused by the cognitive and perception limitations of humans (Wandersee and Schussler 1999) or because of zoochauvinism and plant neglect (Hershey 2002). Some studies have addressed student biases and perception of plants at elementary, middle, and high school levels (e.g., Wandersee 1986, Kinchin 1999, Barman et al. 2003, Schussler and Olzak 2008). Similarly, considerable effort has focused on enhancing and promoting the appreciation of plants at the primary and secondary levels (see resources and outreach on the BSA website and lists of resources in Frisch, Unwin, and Saunders 2010). This study is a pilot project to quantify the degree of plant blindness in introductory biology students at University of Florida. Surveys were given to approximately 300 students enrolled in the summer course. Questions on the survey assessed how plants fared among students when asked to 1) provide a list of organisms that immediately come to mind; 2) recall what organisms are in a photo they are briefly shown; 3) describe what is going on in a photograph of a biological community; 4) rank a list of organisms using their own importance criteria and according to interest level, and 5) respond to open-ended questions about their own biological interests. Results of this study will be used to inform and direct efforts to enhance plant appreciation in the undergraduate curriculum at UF.

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1 - University of Florida, Department of Biology, Bartram-Carr Hall, P.O Box 118525, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA

plant neglect
plant blindness

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Grand Salon A - D/Riverside Hilton
Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PTE008
Abstract ID:869
Candidate for Awards:None

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