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Teaching


I’ve taught a range of ecology and plant science courses:

Undergraduate:

  • Forest ecology
  • Agroecology
  • General ecology
  • Forest ecosystems
  • Ecology & Evolution
  • Plant Structure & Function
  • Environmental Plant Physiology

Postgraduate:

  • Plant Ecology
  • Plant Ecophysiology
  • Plant Function

My teaching style is highly interactive, even with groups as large as 100. I use an inductive, inquiry-based approach, encouraging the students to develop a conceptual understanding from examples and case studies. I don’t usually set essays. It seems to me more productive to teach students to address novel problems by applying concepts and methods taught during the course. This brings the student closer to the experience of an actual research situation. Here’s an example:

“The data below show photosynthesis and biomass of Vicia plants grown with mycorrhiza and/or Rhizobium (Kucey & Paul 1982, Soil Biology & Biochemistry 14: 413-414). Do these data show these two microbes to be mutualists, commensals or parasites of Vicia? Justify your answer in 150 words or less.”

Diagram

So how did you fare?

We blog problems like this one online to give students confidence in dealing with the sort of questions they can expect in the exam. Sometimes I lift the material for these questions from the literature; sometimes I make up the examples.

Science Writing:

I have a long-standing interest in science writing, and have taught several workshops on “Writing a Scientific Paper”, most recently at University of Waikato in April 2012. Here is the program of the workshop, and a pdf of the slides of the first two sessions.

Workshop program

Workshop sessions 1 & 2

Side 1

Side 2

Side 3