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Listed below is Year 1 Report for the Reviving Traditional Forestry with HP Technology grant project that was funded by the 2008 HP Technology for Teaching Grant Initiative. To review the Year 1 Report, you may scroll through the webpage or click on one of the section headers listed below to go directly to that section.
YEAR 1 REPORT - Reviving Traditional Forestry with HP Technology
The goal of this project is to improve student learning of spatial and temporal aspects of forestry through enhanced teaching capability by using mobile technology in the field and in the classroom. Instructors will use a combination of teaching techniques such as lectures, computer simulations, and fieldwork to enhance student learning. Students will benefit by experiencing multiple teaching techniques and being able to apply concepts directly to the field setting.
Principal Investigator (PI) Full Name & email
Other faculty (contact information, such as email or phone, is optional)
Dr. Darryl Cremeans, Data Systems Manager
Dr. Songlin Fei, Assistant Professor
Dr. Laura Lhotka, Post Doctoral Scientist
Impact on Student Learning – Please describe your project’s goals relative to student learning outcomes. Then describe any emerging evidence, quantitative and qualitative, you have collected that demonstrates how the project has changed student academic success. Be sure to include baseline data to which you can compare your results. For suggestions on creating a compelling evaluation story, please refer to the assessment resources by Gloria Rogers at ABET and the Research and Evaluation resources at the International Society for Technology in Education.
The project’s goals relative to student learning outcomes are to:
In order to accomplish these goals we redesigned a geographic information systems (GIS) course to use HP mobile technology with geospatial software in real-world field examples. We also redesigned a silviculture course to use HP mobile technology with simulation software in the field. Finally, we redesigned a senior-level capstone course to use HP mobile technology with various spatial, inventory, and simulation software in the field.
Through these activities, we wanted to impact student learning outcomes by increasing student understanding of spatial forestry concepts and temporal forestry concepts. We also wanted students to be able to use the HP mobile technology to effectively communicate and demonstrate real-world forestry issues to stakeholders.
At the end of the courses, the students took a written survey to evaluate the use of the tablet PCs in the course. Outlined below is quantitative and qualitative data we collected to demonstrate how the project has changed students academic success.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Course (FOR 599) – Unfortunately in Fall 2008 we had two undergraduate students and three graduate students sign up for this course. The number of students that signed up in Fall 2008 was far below what we had anticipated. Because of the small class size, the course was more of an independent study course than a regular lecture course. We were not able to implement the three exercises as planned. The tablet PCs were used in the GIS course, but not to the extent we would have liked. Some students did check out the computers for the semester and used them to complete their service learning mapping projects. We anticipate more students will sign up for the GIS course in Fall 2009 and we will be able to implement the course as was redesigned for this project.
Silviculture Course (FOR 350) - We intended for the silviculture course to be redesigned to consist of three temporal simulation labs. For Exercise One, the instructor and students would use the tablet PCs only in the classroom. For Exercise Two, the instructor and students would use the tablet PCs in the field and classroom. For Exercise Three, students could choose to use the tablet PC in the classroom or field. At the end of these three exercises, students would be asked how the exercises compared, if using tablet PCs in the field enhanced their learning, and if their proficiency in using technology improved. The instructor would be asked if students seemed more engaged in terms of number and depth of questions during the exercises and how the quality of the three graded exercises compare. Due to bad weather (rain/snow) the instructor conducted several indoor labs using the tablet PCs but only one outdoor lab was conducted. The end of semester survey was modified to match the revised course structure.
Seventeen undergraduate students were enrolled in the silviculture course in spring 2009. To demonstrate how the project changed student academic success we surveyed the students at the end of the semester. Eighty-two percent (n=14) of the students responded to the survey. Overall, the students liked using the tablet PCs in the silviculture course. Most students felt that the tablet PCs enhanced their learning of silvicultural topics in the course. For next year, students recommend more use of the tablet PC.
The following table provides summary information from the survey.
“What did you like about the tablet PC?”
“What did you not like about the tablet PC?”
“Related to the use of the tablet PC, what would you recommend the instructor do differently to improve this course next year? Please give a detailed explanation.”
Capstone Course (FOR 480) – The capstone course is a culmination of forestry concepts and consists of one real-world project working with landowners to create a management plan for a forested property. This course was redesigned so students could use mobile technology with various spatial, inventory, and simulation software in the field. Mid-semester, students were asked to evaluate how the tablet PCs have impacted the creation of the management plan for the first part of the semester. At the end of the semester, students were given a written survey to evaluate the overall use of the tablet PCs. Instructors compared students using tablet PCs with students from previous years that did not have access to mobile technology.
“What were the pros and cons of using the tablet PC for the inventory plan and methods assignment?”
“Were there any logistical or technical issues with the tablet PC in the field or lab?”
At the end of the semester, the students were given a written survey to evaluate their overall experience with the tablet PCs. Eleven of the fourteen students completed the end of semester survey.
The following table provides summary information from the survey.
Students were asked if “Overall, did you like using the tablet PC in this course?” Eight students said ‘yes’ and two students said ‘no’.
The students were also asked the following open-ended questions about the use of the tablet PCs.
“What did you not like about using the tablet PC?”
Overall, all we feel the tablet PCs had an impact on student learning. However, given the feedback from the students, there are several areas that we can improve on for the second year of the project. Areas for improvement include having more field time for the silviculture course (depending on weather conditions). Another area for improvement for the capstone course is to determine other ways the students can use the computers in the field without having to carrying them with them as they conduct fieldwork. The instructors on the project will meet over the summer to discuss ways to improve student learning outcomes and other aspects of the project based on the student feedback.
Impact on Teaching - describe specific examples of how this project has influenced your instructional practices. What were you able to accomplish in your teaching that would not have been possible without the technology?
In the silviculture course, this project enabled the use of visualization software to demonstrate how forest management practices alter forest structure. The project also allowed the integration of forest growth software to conduct interactive lab exercises that helped highlight key principles of forest growth. The instructor facilitated an outdoor lab session that allowed students to make first hand comparisons of how a forest looked to them in the field with the inventory data collected on the site. This helps students conceptualize what common forest inventory parameters are describing. The use of forest inventory software in class allowed students to more quickly process data. This made it possible for the instructor to present more complex methods of data analysis that are critical to the development of forest management plans. The project allowed the instructor to utilize immediate feedback teaching methods in the classroom. The instructor plans to more fully integrate the use of the tablet PC inking technology in the explanation of fundamental forestry concepts to students in the upcoming academic year.
In the silviculture course, technology is being used to analyze forest inventory data. This analysis is used to teach concepts of forest structure and growth and is used by students to complete assignments. Technology is also being used to summarize and present data. This includes the preparation of graphs, maps and tables, writing of reports, and developing visual aids (PowerPoint) that accompany oral presentations.
The software used in the silviculture course includes - Productivity software (MS office), mapping software (ArcGIS), GPS processing software (DNR Garmin), and forest inventory software (TwoDog).
Other Outcomes - Please describe any other expected or unexpected outcomes/benefits that have arisen from this project (positive or negative). How has the technology facilitated these outcomes/benefits?
One of the positive outcomes of this project is the seniors in the Capstone course had a dedicated computer lab to work on their management plan. Students worked in teams to complete this management plan. By having a dedicated computer lab students were able to work together on their project without having to compete for computer time. As a result, the instructor feels the students were able to accomplish more with their management plan and submit a better project at the end of the semester.
Project Visibility - How have you communicated the project and its results of this project to others? Include presentations about the project conducted on campus, at conferences, and/or any publications. Please be sure to describe any recognition that your project has received or ways in which your team and/or students have shown the grant-related work to others on your campus, in your community, or beyond.
On April 28, 2009, the Capstone (FOR 480) students presented their forest management plans to approximately 45 people on the University of Kentucky campus. Private forest landowners, the U.S. Forest Service, forestry students, faculty, Extension personnel, and the general public attended the presentation. The presentations began by showing the Growing Kentucky HP video segment listed below. Then the three groups of students then presented the results of their final project, the forest management plan.
The Summer 2009 issue of the The Ag Magazine featured an article on our HP Technology for Teaching grant. The Ag Magazine is published by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.
In April 2009, the Kentucky public education channel’s show, Growing Kentucky, featured a segment on the HP Technology for Teaching Grant highlighting the Capstone course (FOR 480). Growing Kentucky is a show produced by the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service. A video clip of the segment can be found http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/video/growingkentucky/april.htm or http://www.youtube.com/user/UKForestry or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fazSX0cOWBM
We are enthusiastic about the future of the project. For the first year of the project we learned many lessons of what to do and what not to do when incorporating tablet PCs into the classroom and field. We look forward to improving our project for the second year. The project team will meet over the summer to discuss ways to improve the use of the tablet PCs in the field and ways to integrate more onscreen inking and instant feedback into class activities. We hope by the third year we will have worked through many of the challenges and effectively expand our project to other courses in the forestry curriculum. We recognize the importance of using technology in the classroom and the field and expect other forestry courses and instructors can benefit from our experience.
Project Challenges - What stumbling blocks or challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them? What “words of wisdom” would you share with other educators who would like to replicate your project?
One unexpected challenge of this project was the difficulty of using the tablet PCs in the field. The first two months of the spring semester, the region had several rain and snow storms during the days when the students were to be out in the field. If the students were able to go out into the field during the rainy/snowy weather, they were not able to take the tablet PCs with them. However, when the weather was good, students had difficulty hiking through the woods with the tablet PCs. The tablet PCs were cumbersome and difficult to use while climbing through rough terrain. We would like to find another alternative so that the students can still take the tablet PCs into the field but not have to carry them with them as they hike through steep terrain to take their measurements.
The project collaborators will work over the summer to try to come up with a solution for bringing the tablet PCs to the field. We hope that by the end of year two of the project we will have useful “words of wisdom” for other educators that would like to use the tablet PCs in the field.
Administrator's Reflections - (To be answered by a department head or other key administrator who is familiar with the project) Please review the team's final reflections on the impact of the grant as requested above and describe any significant outcomes of the team's work from your perspective. Describe the commitment of the institution/department to continue and expand these efforts. In the conclusion of the statement please include your name, title, and contact information.
I have reviewed the team’s first year reflection on the impact of the HP grant. The team has done a great job of implementing the first year of the project. Although the team faced unexpected challenges, such as low enrollment in the GIS course and inclement weather during field portions of the other two courses, they are dedicated to improving student learning. The team will meet over the summer to discuss ways to improve the project based on the lessons learned in the first year of the project. The team is also excited about implementing some of the new teaching tools learned at the HP Conference in San Diego. They are committed to finding effective ways to enhance student learning of forestry concepts in the classroom and field. In the near future, we expect additional forestry courses to benefit from using the tablet PCs in the classroom and the field.
The University of Kentucky’s Department of Forestry remains committed to ensuring the HP project is successful in year two and future years. The department will continue to provide technical support for maintaining the tablet PCs and dedicated classroom space for the use of the tablet PCs. Our department greatly appreciates HP giving us the opportunity to use technology to improve student learning and instructor teaching. (Administrator - Steven H. Bullard - Department of Forestry - Professor and Chair)
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