A Survey of Introductory Soil Science Courses and Curricula in the United States

Nicolas A. Jelinski, Colby J. Moorberg, Michel D. Ransom, James C. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Core Ideas: Soil water concepts and soil classification were allotted the most time among topical categories. Little evidence for curricular differences between land-grant and non-land-grant institutions. Pedagogical styles are diverse, with 44% of course hours dedicated to non-traditional approaches. A survey of introductory soil science or equivalent (ISSe) instructors and courses at 79 institutions differing in land-grant status (38 land-grant, 41 non-land-grant) and Carnegie category (48 doctoral, 16 masters, 10 baccalaureate, 2 associate, 3 respondents did not identify by Carnegie classification) was conducted to collect information about the current state of ISSe course offerings in the United States. Our data demonstrates little evidence for curricular differences between land-grant and non-land-grant institutions. A “depth” ranking of topical components of these courses showed that soil water concepts and soil classification were allotted the most time, on average. Pedagogical styles were diverse, with 44% of ISSe course hours dedicated to active learning, flipped classroom, or online learning formats. There was no significant relationship between class size or institution type and the proportion of the non-lab component of the course taught in alternative formats. Over 40% of respondents expressed interest in connecting with other introductory soils instructors to share course materials and explore new approaches. The results of this survey will serve as a resource to (1) improve general knowledge of the diversity of materials, and methods used to teach introductory soil science courses; (2) assist instructors or institutions in the process of revising or reviewing their introductory soil science courses; and (3) identify opportunities for cross-institutional cooperation or development of course materials and resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalNatural Sciences Education
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the time and generosity of more than 80 dedicated introductory soil science faculty and staff respondents from 79 institutions for participating in this survey; Dr. J.D. Walker (research associate, University of Minnesota Center for Educational Innovation) for co‐designing and curating the survey data and responses; and David Crouse and Kim Hay for reviewing preliminary survey questions. This project was determined as Exempt status by the University of Minnesota IRB on 6 June 2016. This work was supported in part by the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, project no. AES0025014 and represents contribution no. 19‐114‐J from the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors.

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