In 2009, the College of Soil and Environmental Sciences recognized the need for quality teaching materials to fill the gap in undergraduates’ understanding of key concepts in their soil science classroom.
Dr. Barbara Chamberlin, of New Mexico State University Media Productions, and Dr. April Ulery, of New Mexico State University Soil and Environmental Sciences, were funded through the USDA HSI program (2010-38422-21211) to identify these gaps and develop innovative media to assist faculty in building students’ content knowledge. Focus group interviews with general faculty, soil and environmental sciences faculty, and employers of soil science graduates were conducted to identify content that students struggle to understand, key processes that demand excessive lecture time to convey, and areas in which graduates are underprepared for the workforce.
Through animations, games, videos, and interactive modules, the project presents agricultural and environmental science content in fresh, contextually relevant ways, allowing learners to apply their own knowledge to specific problems. Multimodal learning tools allow students and teachers to actively engage in inquiry and discovery - both foundational elements in science.
As part of its design process for this project, the team tested productivity during developmental meetings. How do the initial prototypes work in classrooms? Do some tools seem to be more effective than others in aiding students to learn identified concepts?