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Abstract Detail

Education and Outreach

McDonough MacKenzie, Caitlin [1], Pearson, Abby [1].

Winter Twig Phenology: An Experiment & Writing Assignment (bud)Bursting with Potential.

Over the last three semesters, educators have met the challenges of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic with unbelievable creativity, flexibility, and energy. Many of us will return to the classroom soon, but the influence of our remote and hybrid experiences will stay with us. In particular, the approaches and assignments that met clear learning goals with simple methods, outdoor fieldwork, and low-stakes but meaningful assessments which we developed under pressure this year can become staples in our future curricula.
Here, we present a lab experiment and accompanying writing assignment for undergraduates that we developed for an in-person lab component of a mostly remote Forest Ecosystems class. We collected twigs from on-campus trees and brought them indoors for a simple leaf-out phenology experiment under different chilling units (collected in February versus collected in March in central Maine). Students chose which taxa to include in the experiment and submitted their hypotheses for the study after reading about twig phenology studies in Massachusetts. The fieldwork required students to practice winter plant identification and record careful fieldnotes. They read research papers and literature reviews on leaf out phenology and twig experiments, and video-chatted with a researcher. Their writing assignment, a four-paragraph Introduction, included two scaffolding steps, an outline and rough draft, where they received feedback from the instructor. The rough draft was ungraded, in an attempt to focus the revision process on meeting the reviewer’s (i.e. instructor’s) comments. The narrow scope — just four paragraphs — of the writing assignment reduced the grading load, while offering an opportunity to practice important science writing skills, including synthesizing the literature, identifying knowledge gaps, and clearly stating hypotheses for an ongoing experiment. We’re excited to share the success of this new lab exercise in Forest Ecosystems, and we look forward to creating a long-term record of phenological responses to winter chilling on our campus, with the potential for comparisons across sites if you join us and run your own local version!

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1 - Colby College, Environmental Studies

course-based undergraduate research experience
science writing

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: ED3, Education & Outreach III: Teaching tools, Laboratories and Research Experiences
Location: /
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
Time: 1:30 PM(EDT)
Number: ED3003
Abstract ID:168
Candidate for Awards:None

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