1887

The Lichen-GIS Project, Teaching Students How to Use Bioindicator Species to Assess Environmental Quality

    Authors: Stephen C. Wagner1,*, Darrel McDonald2, Trey Watson1, Josephine Taylor1, Alan B. Sowards3
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Biology; 2: Forestry and; 3: Elementary Education Departments, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas 75962
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 17 May 2009
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: SFASU Biology Department, Box 13003 SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962. Phone: (936) 468-2135. Fax: (936) 468-2056. E-mail: [email protected].
    • Copyright © 2009, American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2009 vol. 10 no. 1 9-18. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v10.94
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    Abstract:

    A content-driven biology course for preservice K-8 teachers has been developed. This course uses the constructivist approach, where instructors engage students by organizing information around concept-based problems. To this end, a semester-long, inquiry-based project was introduced where students studied lichen populations on trees located on their campus to monitor air quality. Data were incorporated into a geographical information systems (GIS) database to demonstrate how it can be used to map communities. Student teams counted the number of each lichen type within a grid placed on each tree trunk sampled and entered this information into a GIS database. The students constructed maps of lichen populations at each sample site and wrote abstracts about their research. Student performance was assessed by the preparation of these abstracts as well as by scores on pre- and posttests of key content measures. Students also completed a survey to determine whether the project aided in their comprehension as well as their interest in incorporating this activity into their own curricula. The students’ pre- and posttest results showed an eightfold improvement in the total score after the semester project. Additionally, correct responses to each individual content measure increased by at least 35%. Total scores for the abstract ranged from 12 to 20 points out of 20 total points possible (60% to 100%), with a mean score of 15.8 points (78%). These results indicate that this exercise provided an excellent vehicle to teach students about lichens and their use as bioindicators and the application of geospatial technologies to map environmental data.

Key Concept Ranking

Green Algae
0.6394102
Carbon monoxide
0.5197368
Nitrogen Dioxide
0.46619478
0.6394102

References & Citations

1. Ahmadjian V 1993 The lichen symbiosis John Wiley and Sons New York, NY
2. Brown PA 2005 Cultivating community from the classroom Am Forests 111 34 39
3. Egan RS 1978 A checklist of Texas lichens Tex J Sci 30 145 165
4. Gries C 1996 Lichens as indicators of air pollution 240 254 Nash TH Lichen biology Cambridge University Press Cambridge, England
5. Hackworth DL, Hill DJ 1984 The lichen-forming fungi Blackie and Son Limited New York, NY
6. Hale ME 1979 How to know the lichens 2nd ed WCB McGraw-Hill Madison, WI
7. Harmon ME 1992 Long-term experiments on log decomposition at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-280 U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station Portland, OR
8. Howarth S, Slingsby D 2004 Biology fieldwork in school grounds: a model of good practice in teaching science School Sci Rev 87 320 99 105
9. Hupy JP, et al 2005 Mapping soils, vegetation and landforms: an integrative physical geography field experience Prof Geogr 57 438 451 10.1111/j.0033-0124.2005.00489.x http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0033-0124.2005.00489.x
10. Leblanc F, Rao D, Comea G 1972 The epiphytic vegetation of Populus balsamifera and its significance as an air pollution indicator in Sudbury, Ontario Can. J. Bot. 50 519 528 10.1139/b72-065 http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/b72-065
11. Ramirez M, Althouse P 1995 Fresh thinking: GIS in environmental education T.H.E. Journal 23 87 90
12. Richardson DHS 1974 The vanishing lichens Hafner Press New York, NY
13. Sigal LL 1988 The relationship of lichen and bryophyte research to regulatory decisions in the United States Bibliotheca Lichenologica 30 269 287
14. Smith BW, Zhou Y 2005 Assessment of learning objectives: the example of spatial analysis at Bowling Green State University Int Res Geogr Environ Educ 14 211 216 10.1080/10382040508668353 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10382040508668353
15. Tolman DA 2001 A science-in-the making course for nonscience majors 12 18 Practicing science: the investigative approach in college science teaching NSTA Press Arlington, VA
16. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2003 Air quality index. A guide to air quality and your health U.S. Environmental Protection Agency publication no. EPA-454/K-03-002 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Washington, DC
17. Vokou D, Pirintsos SA, Loppi S 1999 Lichens as bioindicators of temporal variations in air quality around Thessaloniki, northern Greece Ecol Res 14 89 96 10.1046/j.1440-1703.1999.00294.x http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-1703.1999.00294.x
18. Wentz EA, Vender JC, Brewer CA 1999 An evaluation of teaching introductory geomorphology using computer-based tools J Geogr Higher Educ 23 167 179 10.1080/03098269985443 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03098269985443
19. Wood J 2005 “How green is my valley?” Desktop geographic information systems as a community-based participatory mapping tool Area 37 159 170 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2005.00618.x http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4762.2005.00618.x

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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v10.94
2009-05-17
2019-06-20

Abstract:

A content-driven biology course for preservice K-8 teachers has been developed. This course uses the constructivist approach, where instructors engage students by organizing information around concept-based problems. To this end, a semester-long, inquiry-based project was introduced where students studied lichen populations on trees located on their campus to monitor air quality. Data were incorporated into a geographical information systems (GIS) database to demonstrate how it can be used to map communities. Student teams counted the number of each lichen type within a grid placed on each tree trunk sampled and entered this information into a GIS database. The students constructed maps of lichen populations at each sample site and wrote abstracts about their research. Student performance was assessed by the preparation of these abstracts as well as by scores on pre- and posttests of key content measures. Students also completed a survey to determine whether the project aided in their comprehension as well as their interest in incorporating this activity into their own curricula. The students’ pre- and posttest results showed an eightfold improvement in the total score after the semester project. Additionally, correct responses to each individual content measure increased by at least 35%. Total scores for the abstract ranged from 12 to 20 points out of 20 total points possible (60% to 100%), with a mean score of 15.8 points (78%). These results indicate that this exercise provided an excellent vehicle to teach students about lichens and their use as bioindicators and the application of geospatial technologies to map environmental data.

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Figures

Image of FIG. 1.

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FIG. 1.

Student-estimated crustose lichen populations on trees inhabiting the Stephen F. Austin State University campus.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2009 vol. 10 no. 1 9-18. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v10.94
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Image of FIG. 2.

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FIG. 2.

Student-estimated foliose lichen populations on trees inhabiting the Stephen F. Austin State University campus.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2009 vol. 10 no. 1 9-18. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v10.94
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIG. 3.

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FIG. 3.

Student-estimated total lichen populations on trees inhabiting the Stephen F. Austin State University campus.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2009 vol. 10 no. 1 9-18. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v10.94
Download as Powerpoint

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