course organization

Robinson, Dr. David drobinson at
Sun Jul 15 13:59:08 EST 2001

It IS a quandry isn't it?...what comes first:   the survey of plants?...or
the anatomy/morphology? I say, if in doubt, stick with the order that it is
presented in whichever textbook you are using, and do your best to integrate
any other information you think appropriate. 

When I first started teaching Botany I designed my own organization for the
course, which involved jumping around between chapters (ie. a little bit
here and a little bit there) in what I believed to be a more logical order
than what it was presented in the book. I later found out that this annoyed
students quite abit, so now I go through the chapters in numerical order
(1,2,3,4..). Students prefer reading books in the order that it is
published. I figure that if I don't like the order that the book uses I
should just pick a different book, and if all the books present the material
in the same order then maybe we should trust the authors' judgement! They
have probably thought about more than we have!

I teach Botany for non-majors, and use a small paperback book called "Botany
for Gardeners" by Alan Capon, supplemented with my own WWW site and

Dave Robinson
Bellarmine University
Louisville, KY

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	svand at [SMTP:svand at]
> Sent:	Friday, July 13, 2001 3:54 PM
> To:	plant-ed at
> Subject:	RE: course organization
> I second Scott's request.  I'm preparing to teach a similar course - again
> -
> this fall and have tried both schemes.  I have reservations about both
> formats and would appreciate other's input.  In addition, what textbooks
> are
> being used for this type of course?
> Staria
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-plant-ed at
> [mailto:owner-plant-ed at]On Behalf Of Scott Shumway
> Sent: Friday, July 13, 2001 9:15 AM
> To: plant-ed at
> Subject: course organization
> My Plant Biology course (open to students who have completed intro bio)
> has
> evolved into a survey of the plant kingdom and the anatomy of roots,
> stems,
> and leaves.  I continue to wrestle with the question of which should come
> first, the anatomy or the survey?  I've tried it both ways.  The anatomy
> provides vocabulary which is useful for the survey.  For example, it is
> difficult to explain the differences between non-vascular plants and ferns
> if students do not know what xylem is or that the pores in liverworts are
> similar in function to stomata in higher plants if they don't know what
> stomata are.  HOWEVER, teaching the survey early in the semester would
> allow me to make greater use of the natural laboratory of our campus and
> surrounding woodland and to save the microscope work for the cold parts of
> the New England semester.  I think that I can also get students more
> excited about plants by starting with whole plants rather than tissues and
> cell types.  OR I could insert the anatomy into the beginning of the
> flowering plants, as the anatomy is focused almost exclusively on
> angiosperms.  I use Raven et al as a text and they place anatomy after the
> survey.
> I would appreciate any suggestions.  Thank you.
> Scott Shumway
> Associate Professor of Biology
> Dept. of Biology
> Wheaton College
> Norton, MA 02766
> 508-286-3945
> "Scott_Shumway at"
> fax 508-285-8278
> ---
> ---
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