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Abstract Detail


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Wandersee, James H. [1], Clary, Renee M. [2].

A Computer Analysis of Sir David Attenborough's Botany Teaching Strategy .

Sir David Attenborough of the BBC received critical acclaim for his contribution to the improvement of public understanding of plants. His notable six-video series entitled The Private Life of Plants is widely recognized as one of the most influential and captivating plant science television programs ever made. Our research investigation asked: Can a computer-based text-and-visual analysis of the harvested content of that entire video series allow us to derive a descriptive and implementable model of Attenborough's botany teaching strategy? Our systematic, mixed methods study involved (a) coding, transcribing, and categorizing; (b) qualitative-quantitative comparison; and (c) careful description of Attenborough’s use of language and visual-expository practices within this botanical video series. Our model characterizes and quantifies how Attenborough selects words, constructs and delivers sentences, uses the active and passive voice, integrates concepts across lessons, employs metaphors, creates compelling visual examples to teach science informally, and enhances the public’s aesthetic appreciation of plants. Our model also reflects the opportunity (albeit brief) that we had to speak with Attenborough in November, 2007, in London about the making of this series and its subsequent success. The result is a model teaching strategy we think any botany instructor could emulate.


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1 - Louisiana State University, Dept. of Educational Theory, Policy, & Practice, Ph.D. Studies in Biology Education, 223 Peabody Hall, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803, USA
2 - Mississippi State University, Dept. of Geosciences, 301-B Hilbun Hall, Mississippi State, Mississippi, 39762, USA

Keywords:
visual perception of plants
text analysis
visual analysis
botany teaching
public understanding
time-lapse photography.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for BSA Sections
Session: 36
Location: Superior A/Cliff Lodge - Level C
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Time: 8:00 AM
Number: 36001
Abstract ID:82


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