For those of you who have followed the blog in 2014, you may have noticed a “Weed of the Week” series published throughout the semester. This is a direct result of the turf students enrolled in PSS 4823, Turfgrass Weed Management. During the semester, students were placed into groups and assigned a specific weed to discuss life cycles, identification characteristics, and control options. As you can all see for yourselves, the class did a great job discussing each weed that was highlighted. In addition, I partnered with Dr. Hock in the department of Human Sciences at Mississippi State University in order to collect data to monitor progress throughout the semester. We just received word that this blogging project was recently accepted and will be presented at the 2014 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) conference. A job well done by our turf students! Student contributors included Dylan Boteler, Michael Denney, Dustin Miller, Douglas Martin, Jed McCoy, Ashley Averitt, Wes Dyer, Corey Garrison, Kyle Grider, Justin Hickman, Ethan Flournoy, Coleman Torgersen, Jordan Billingsley, and Christo Sullivan.
Below is the title and abstract that will be presented.
Blogging about Turfgrass Weeds: A Strategy to Improve Students’ Writing Skills in a Turf Weed Management Course
Blogging is a tool that is increasing in popularity among all ages and for many different uses. The use of blogging in the classroom is a unique tool to increase student comprehension and writing skills. Blogging in teams allows students to receive feedback from their peers to improve their writing. Students enrolled in Turf Weed Management at Mississippi State University were randomly assigned into groups of three to research, write, and publish a blog post on an assigned weed species. Students completed a brief questionnaire prior to working on the assignment to determine their familiarity with blogs. Of the 13 students in the class, 10 (77%) had never contributed to any blog. Following the initial blog posts, the instructor identified areas for improving the quality of content and writing ability. Spending more time initially helping students interpret appropriate information found on the Internet resulted in higher quality content in later posts. Also, going through line by line with students on each blog post has resulted in a more concise writing style. Students completed a questionnaire at the mid-point of the semester to assess how they were progressing with the assignment. Twelve students responded they were highly satisfied with the blogging portion of the course. The blogging component of the course has helped improve student writing skills and the ability to find reliable information about individual weed species.