non-majors course

Kathleen Archer Kathleen.Archer at
Fri Jan 17 09:26:38 EST 2003

Dear Beverly and Plant Ed Folks,
I teach a plant biology course for non-majors (no lab), and I cover 
material similar to Janice, trying to marry the key elements of plant 
biology with current events and real world encounters with plants - the 
plant-related topics a non-scientist would run into in every day 
life.   For a non-major, relevance from their perspective is an
motivator.   I think you will have a much greater variety of topics if
go with a general plant biology course instead of an ethnobotany course, 
and the variety will help keep interest high also.

As far as lab goes, since my course does not have one I don't have a 
semester long collection of lab exercises to offer.  But I suggest that 
observational labs - the really fun things to look at - will inspire
and appreciation and those are good things.  A couple of labs that are
experimental help convey some of the concepts of scientific process, but
my experience, teaching the scientific process so that a student really
truly gets it requires time and their own research project.   However, 
since careful observation is still important in scientific discovery,
observational labs with questions that induce critical thinking are
very worthy.
Good luck,
Kathleen Archer

Kathleen Archer
Dept. Biology
Trinity College
Hartford, CT 06106
Ph: (860)297-2226
kathleen.archer at


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