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A Problem-Based Learning Approach to Teaching Introductory Soil Science
At most land-grant universities in the United States, Introduction to Soil Science is traditionally taught using a combination of lecture and laboratory formats. To promote engagement, improve comprehension, and enhance retention of content by students, the authors of this text developed a problem-based learning (PBL) introductory soil science course. Students work in groups to solve five real-life problems during the semester for approximately five class periods each. Every problem is contained within a study unit that has learning objectives, relevant resources, as well as a description of the problem. As students work through problems, they go through a PBL cycle of: (i) understanding the question, (ii) identifying what they know and do not know, (iii) finding the information they need, (iv) sharing new information, and (v) identifying new questions. Each group produces a synthesis paper describing their approach and solution to the problem. Tests are based on the learning objectives and students can recapture points by explaining wrong answers. They can also revise synthesis papers.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Graduate / Professional
Type of resource:
  • Text:
    • Journal article
  • Educational theory and practice
  • Soil science
Technical requirements:
Adobe Acrobat reader
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Copyright 2004, American Society of Agronomy.
DLESE Catalog ID: EVAL-TLKT-000-000-000-213
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education

Author: Jose A. Amador
University of Rhode Island

Author: Josef Gorres
University of Rhode Island