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Interactive Fundamental Agricultural Resource Materials (iFARM)

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Biological and Agricultural Engineering Education Technical Session

Tagged Division

Biological & Agricultural

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.824.1 - 25.824.6



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Paper Authors


Pil-Won On University of Missouri, Columbia

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Pil-Won On is Instructional Designer/E-learning Specialist, College of Engineering, University of Missouri, Columbia. On has a M.S. in instructional systems technology from Indiana University, Bloomington.

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Lori Unruh Snyder Purdue University

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Lori Unruh Snyder is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agronomy. Her research focus is teaching technologies and sustainable international grassland systems.

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Assurance of Quality Learning Delivered through Interactive Fundamental Agricultural Resource Materials (iFARM) It is known that developing well-designed learning materials improves both teaching andlearning in an online environment (Carpi, 2003). In addition, rich media would be the option toovercome the students’ physical distance from a classroom (Dennis and Kinney, 1998). Theeffectiveness of multimedia application in the curriculum is proven by the study of Howard, Ellis,and Rasmussen (2004) conducting pre/post-tests to find out the significance of learning withmultimedia. They experimented with how multimedia positively affects the learning experienceof contemporary students. The study resulted in verifying the value of high-tech pedagogy. AsStemler (1997) indicates, learning with multimedia “becomes active, not passive, and it ensuresthat users are doing, not simply watching.” The dual coding approach (Paivio, 1990) can bereferred to prove the effectiveness of the interactive multimedia delivery that is capable ofpresenting contextual concepts in a concurrent visual and aural manner that maximizes the levelof learning process (Rieber, 1996). Research shows that problem-based learning (PBL) enriches students’ learning. Evaluativeresearch comparing PBL to traditional teaching methods found positively in favor of PBL withrespect to students’ attitudes towards their medical education and performance during clinicalexaminations (Albanese & Mitchell, 1993; Vernon & Blake, 1993, Kaufman & Mann 1996).Research also indicates that thoughtful work that incorporates analogous scenarios providesstudents an opportunity to understand the application value of the assignment to real worldsituations and promotes deep learning (Kolodner, 1997). Few academic programs in applied agricultural disciplines have been able to incorporatecritical thinking into the curriculum in a comprehensive way. Stimulating enthusiasm for thesubject material represents a major challenge especially in large and information-driven lowerdivision introductory courses. Our experiences have shown that there is not only a great need toimprove the problem solving skills of undergraduate agricultural students, but that successrequires an interactive approach in which instructors employ hands-on instructional methods innovel and innovative settings to simulate the real world problems students might expect toencounter. Interactive Fundamental Agricultural Resource Modules or “iFARM” is web-basedinteractive modules that demonstrate ways to approach complex agricultural situations which areviable to learning about plants, soils and sustainable agroecosystems. The developed iFARMmodules have been implemented in the introductory argonomy course since the fall semester in2008. The student's mastery of the subject matters by conducting the pre- and post-test in eachmodule. Students’ opinions of their learning experiences with interactive modules have collectedthrough mid-term and final course evaluations. The data collected over the past three years will be examined in the matched-pairsexperiment setting. The authors hypothesize that the interactive modules promote students’learning experiences both intellectually and psychologically. The data analysis will be conductedas a result of concluding the assurance of quality learning delivered through the interactivelearning modules. Students lack real-world experiences that enhance their basic abilities to develop orenhance their decision-making skills, while utilizing environmental management tools. The goalis to increase awareness of the holistic approach to agriculture that encompasses sustainablemanagement practices. There have been no online resources available to integrate sustainableproduction practices in ongoing crop production situations. Few academic programs in appliedagricultural disciplines have been able to incorporate critical thinking into the curriculum in acomprehensive way. This study will be able to suggest best practices of designing anddeveloping online resources in applied sciences disciplines. Figure 1. Example of case-based problem-solving activityFigure 2. Field experience simulation activity: moving around with a 4-wheeler Figure 3. Field experience simulation activity: soil samplingReferencesAlbanese, M. A. & Mitchell, S. (1993). Problem-Based Learning: A Review of Literature on Its Outcomes and Implementation Issues. Academic Medicine, 68, 52-81.Carpi, A. (2003). The Vision Learning Project. Journal of College Science Teaching, 33(1), 12- 15.Dennis, A. R. & Kinney, S. T. (1998). Testing Media Richness Theory in the New Media: The Effects of Cues, Feedback, and Task Equivocality. Information Systems Research, 9(3), 256-274.Howard, W.G., Ellis, H.H., & Rasmussen, K. (2004). From the Arcade to the Classroom: Capitalizing on Students' Sensory Rich Media Preferences in Disciplined-Based Learning. College Student Journal, 38(3), 431-440.Kaufman, D. M. & Mann, K. V. (1996). Students’ Perceptions about Their Courses in Problem- Based Learning and Conventional Curricula. Academic Medicine, 71(1), 52–54.Kolodner, J. L. (1997). Educational Implications of Analogy: A View from Case-Based Reasoning. American Psychologist, 52, 57–66.Paivio, A. (1990). Mental Representations: A Dual Coding Approach (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Rieber, L. P. (1996). Animation as Feedback in a Computer-Based Simulation: Representation Matters. Educational Technology Research & Development, 44(1), 5-22.Stemler, L.K. (1997). Educational Characteristics of Multimedia: A Literature Review. Journal of Educational Multimedia and hypermedia, 6(3/4), 339-359.Vernon, D. A. & Blake, R. L. (1993). Does Problem-Based Learning Work? A Meta-Analysis of Evaluative Research. Academic Medicine, 68 (7), 550-563.

On, P., & Snyder, L. U. (2012, June), Interactive Fundamental Agricultural Resource Materials (iFARM) Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21581

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