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Abstract Detail

Education and Outreach

Parsley, Kathryn [1], Brownlee, Kristi [2], Sabel, Jaime [2].

An Analysis of Plant Awareness Disparity within Introductory Biology Textbook Images.

Plant awareness disparity (PAD, formerly plant blindness) is the tendency not to notice plants in an environment (Parsley, 2020; Wandersee & Schussler, 1999). PAD can lead to misconceptions such as plants do not evolve, do not do anything, and are unimportant to the biosphere and human affairs (Wandersee & Schussler, 2001; Uno, 2009). In this study, we explored how plants and animals are represented in introductory biology textbooks to determine if these texts are contributing to PAD in undergraduate students. We analyzed images from four texts that are commonly used as introductory biology textbooks for biology majors, and specifically focused on the introductory, genetics, and evolution chapters. The selected textbooks include: Biology: How Life Works second edition published by Macmillan Learning, Campbell Biology eleventh edition published by Pearson Education, Understanding Biology second edition published by McGraw Hill Education, and Biology 2e published by OpenStax. For the purpose of this study, all photographs, drawings, and diagrams that captured or illustrated living or fossilized organisms were included. We coded the images according to what category they fell into: plant only, animal only, plant focus, animal focus, plant present with other focus, dual focus and other.We found that animals are chosen more often as examples of biological concepts in textbook images across all four textbooks, indicating that these texts are contributing to PAD. Animal only and animal-focused images dominated across all four texts and all chapters. Plant only images were the next most common category across most textbooks and chapters. There was a relatively low proportion of dual focus images across all textbooks and chapters as well.Our findings are alarming because these textbooks are some of the most popular texts used for general biology courses in universities across the US. As such, these textbooks are potentially having a negative effect on botany education across the country.Textbook producers should focus on including a more equal number of plant and animal examples of biology concepts and processes, and instructors should bring in outside examples and images to supplement those currently in texts that demonstrate a bias toward animals. For those instructors who do not have access to supplementary materials, online resources such as can be utilized for more images and examples. Additionally, herbaria (both digital and physical) represent an important and unique opportunity for more examples as herbarium specimens provide visual aids that are also relevant.

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1 - Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Education Research and Outreach, 975 N Warson Rd, St. Louis, MO, 63132, USA
2 - University of Memphis, Biological Sciences, 3774 Walker Ave, Memphis, TN, 38152, USA

plant blindness
plant awareness disparity
botany education
botany outreach
textbook analysis.

Presentation Type: Poster
Session: P2, Education and Outreach Posters
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Tuesday, July 20th, 2021
Time: 5:00 PM(EDT)
Number: P2EO001
Abstract ID:162
Candidate for Awards:None

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