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: swagner@sfasu.edu.
    • 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 V1993The lichen symbiosisJohn Wiley and SonsNew York, NY
2. Brown PA2005Cultivating community from the classroomAm Forests1113439
3. Egan RS1978A checklist of Texas lichensTex J Sci30145165
4. Gries C1996Lichens as indicators of air pollution240254 Nash THLichen biologyCambridge University PressCambridge, England
5. Hackworth DL, Hill DJ1984The lichen-forming fungiBlackie and Son LimitedNew York, NY
6. Hale ME1979How to know the lichens2nd edWCB McGraw-HillMadison, WI
7. Harmon ME1992Long-term experiments on log decomposition at the H. J. Andrews Experimental ForestGen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-280U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research StationPortland, OR
8. Howarth S, Slingsby D2004Biology fieldwork in school grounds: a model of good practice in teaching scienceSchool Sci Rev8732099105
9. Hupy JP, et al2005Mapping soils, vegetation and landforms: an integrative physical geography field experienceProf Geogr5743845110.1111/j.0033-0124.2005.00489.x http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0033-0124.2005.00489.x
10. Leblanc F, Rao D, Comea G1972The epiphytic vegetation of Populus balsamifera and its significance as an air pollution indicator in Sudbury, OntarioCan. J. Bot.5051952810.1139/b72-065 http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/b72-065
11. Ramirez M, Althouse P1995Fresh thinking: GIS in environmental educationT.H.E. Journal238790
12. Richardson DHS1974The vanishing lichensHafner PressNew York, NY
13. Sigal LL1988The relationship of lichen and bryophyte research to regulatory decisions in the United StatesBibliotheca Lichenologica30269287
14. Smith BW, Zhou Y2005Assessment of learning objectives: the example of spatial analysis at Bowling Green State UniversityInt Res Geogr Environ Educ1421121610.1080/10382040508668353 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10382040508668353
15. Tolman DA2001A science-in-the making course for nonscience majors1218Practicing science: the investigative approach in college science teachingNSTA PressArlington, VA
16. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency2003Air quality index. A guide to air quality and your healthU.S. Environmental Protection Agency publication no. EPA-454/K-03-002U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyWashington, DC
17. Vokou D, Pirintsos SA, Loppi S1999Lichens as bioindicators of temporal variations in air quality around Thessaloniki, northern GreeceEcol Res14899610.1046/j.1440-1703.1999.00294.x http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-1703.1999.00294.x
18. Wentz EA, Vender JC, Brewer CA1999An evaluation of teaching introductory geomorphology using computer-based toolsJ Geogr Higher Educ2316717910.1080/03098269985443 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03098269985443
19. Wood J2005“How green is my valley?” Desktop geographic information systems as a community-based participatory mapping toolArea3715917010.1111/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
2017-08-18

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
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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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