APRIL 2019

News & Updates

The Iowa State University PLC team had another great trip to Africa!
      Dr. Michael Retallick and Dr. Judith Levings participated and contributed to the first Plant Breeding E-Learning Workshop for Plant Breeding Educators in selected public Universities in Ghana. Participants the University of Cape Coast, Energy and Natural Resources Development Studies and Education Winneba (Mampong campus), attended along with PhD students from KNUST. Workshops were held on all of the PBEA content modules conducted by Dr. Stephen Amoah, Dr. Alex Wirko Kena, Dr. Richard Akromah. It was a productive week that has great potential for replication.  
     For more detailed information about the week take a look at this great article from KNUST's News and Media page:
The PBEA- PLC group also visited the Makerere Univesity Regional Centre for Crop Improvement near Kampala, Uganda.   Dr. Retallick and Dr. Greg Miller presented a number of workshops for faculty and students.  Take a look at this fine image of the amazing MAK cohort group of MSc and PhD students who attended Dr. Retallick and Dr. Miller's workshops in writing effective teaching objectives, creating effective presentation strategies, and developing effective poster presentations.  

Thank you to our in-country hosts for your hospitality- we believe it was a win-win for your program and enhancing a professional community of plant breeder educators throughout Africa!  

You Wanted to Know...

Scaffolding and Learner Development
 In the classroom, the instructor is responsible for many roles. Not only are they expected to maintain content mastery and manage the classroom, but they are also responsible for creating a learning environment that draws upon the student's prior experiences and engages the student in reflective peer discussion. To create an effective learning environment an instructor often needs to create experiences that are neither too easy nor too difficult for students. 
This environment is called the "Zone of Proximal Development."  A technique that can help students to draw upon prior learning without becoming bored or overwhelmed and construct new knowledge is called scaffolding. One great way to scaffold this new knowledge in the classroom is through the thoughtful creation of Applied Learning Activities (ALAs). Good ALAs use a problem-based approach. This helps students learn about concepts and processes by solving open-ended questions as a group or individually. Students apply prior learning by examining a problem, evaluating solutions, and solving the problem.

A guide to creating effective Applied Learning Activities can be found at:
When working on your ALA ask yourself:

1. What procedures, concepts, and knowledge will the learner need to know and
be able to apply?
2. What analytical and evaluation skills for this task do students have?
3. Have I modeled the thinking process in class in the past that I want them to use?
4.Am I trying to have students do too much - are they having to learn a skill on top
of creating a solution to a problem? Should I break up the tasks – introduce the
skill in an earlier assignment then have them work on the real world problem?
5.Have I made the resources students need to solve the problem easy to find?
6.Is the ALA written in a way students know what I have asked them to do?

Contact the PBEA-PLC Team

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