Places to Publish Plant Education Articles

David R. Hershey dh321 at PGSTUMAIL.PG.CC.MD.US
Sun Dec 3 17:09:41 EST 1995

I missed the November 1994 discussion about the establishment of
a plant education journal, a publication sorely needed to
strengthen plant education. Despite the lack of such a journal,
plant educators have many outlets for education articles. I have
published over two dozen such articles in a variety of refereed
science education journals. Some places to publish plant biology
teaching articles are the following:

The AMERICAN BIOLOGY TEACHER, published by the National
Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), is probably the single
biggest source of plant biology teaching articles. It has a
circulation of about 11,000, and its readers are about 75% high
school biology teachers, yet most articles are written by college
faculty. Surveys indicate the most appreciated articles are of
the How-to-do-it type, which give directions for hands-on labs or
teaching techniques. Other articles are reviews of particular
biology topics or teaching techniques.

BIOSCIENCE has an Education department that only occasionally
appears but is a good place for plant teaching articles. I have
also published plant teaching items in the Biologist Toolbox and
Viewpoint departments. 

The British quarterly, JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL EDUCATION, publishes
a great many plant articles and is one of the few that gives free
reprints to authors.

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) publishes four
general science teaching journals: SCIENCE & CHILDREN for
elementary teachers, SCIENCE SCOPE for middle school teachers,
THE SCIENCE TEACHER for high school teachers, and JOURNAL OF
COLLEGE SCIENCE TEACHING. All often contain plant articles. An
advantage of NSTA journals is that they have artists who can take
an author's rough sketches and make professional drawings. The
JOURNAL OF COLLEGE SCIENCE TEACHING is aimed primarily at faculty
who teach introductory courses and has a Favorite Demonstration
section that is ideal for 1 to 2 page articles. 

CAROLINA TIPS is a newsletter distributed free to science
teachers by Carolina Biological Supply Company. It is unique
because the articles often contain color illustrations. Articles
are refereed by Carolina's staff of PhD biologists, and authors
are provided with free reprints.

SCIENCE ACTIVITIES is a quarterly general science education
journal focusing on hands-on activities and often publishes plant

The JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL EDUCATION sometimes publishes articles
that deal with plant and soil chemistry. 

The American Society of Agronomy publishes the JOURNAL OF NATURAL
AGRONOMIC EDUCATION. It has the rare distinction, for a science
education journal, of having one of its articles cited in a
textbook (PLANT PHYSIOLOGY by Salisbury & Ross). Unlike the above
journals, it has page charges.

the Association of Midwest College Biology Teachers. It contains
many plant articles. All its 21 volumes are being archived
online, which will make it one of the most easily accessible

Research journals sometimes publish teaching articles as well.
GAZETTE) recently published an article on teaching use of
Ceratopteris. The AMERICAN JOURNAL OF BOTANY publishes occasional
special articles that could be considered educational. The PLANT
SCIENCE BULLETIN publishes education articles, and the ASPP
NEWSLETTER has an Education Forum for short items. Most states
have science teacher and biology teacher organizations, some with

Before publishing, it is worthwhile to search the ERIC database
for articles on the manuscript's topic that have appeared in the
science education literature. Although far from complete, ERIC
does include most of the journals that publish plant teaching
articles. However, it only started in 1966, so misses the earlier
literature, much of which is still useful.  

Plant biologists who never publish in it can still help
strengthen the plant education literature by introducing it to
their students, particularly to graduate students who plan on
teaching careers. Introductory botany courses should provide
students with information on plant biology teaching, which would
include resources and techniques for precollege teachers and
parents. Topics could include sources and types of plant biology
science fair projects, plant biology curricula (e.g. Wisconsin
fast plants, GrowLab, Lifelab, etc.), and plant projects that
parents can do with their children (e.g. making a terrarium,
growing plants from supermarket produce, hydroponics, forcing
spring bulbs, growing novelty plants, using plants as toys,
etc.). A useful book on the latter topic is Chesanow, Jeanne R.
1987. Honeysuckle Sipping: The Plant Lore of Childhood. Camden,
ME: Down East Books.

Most of the rewards for publishing in science education journals
seem to be of the personal satisfaction kind. Although usually
not recognized as such by administrators, an innovative science
education article is a scholarly achievement that will probably
have a wider readership and greater impact than most research
articles. Sharing your tried and true plant teaching techniques
is also a service to colleagues and plant biology education in
general. It may also enable botanically challenged science
teachers to add some plant content to their general biology
courses. I use several of my teaching articles as handouts in my
undergraduate classes. Students are impressed, and they can
actually understand the articles, something not possible with
most research articles. A final caution, tenure-track faculty
should be wary about publishing teaching articles. At some
institutions, they are considered a negative, rather than a
positive, part of the tenure package.  

David R. Hershey
Snail mail:			Adjunct Professor
				Biology/Horticulture Department
6700 Belcrest Road #112		Prince George's Community College
Hyattsville, MD 20782-1398	Largo, MD 20772-2199

Email: dh321 at

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