MADISON, WI, May 31, 2010 A study of undergraduates in a five-year Brazilian forestry program finds that what students perceive as important change as they progress through program. These differences suggest ways to improve forestry curriculum and create more attractive forestry programs to reverse the global decline in forestry student enrollment.
Javier Arevelo and others from the University of Eastern Finland, as well as scientists from the Federal University of Paran, where the study was conducted, report their findings in the 2010 Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, published by the America Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America.
The aim of the study was to investigate differences in students' perceptions across study years of a higher education forestry program. Students reported their forestry related concerns, rated their perceived value of competencies and experiences, their preferred work areas, and where they would pursue a Master's program.
Across the five years of student experience, the researchers found that student later in their educational careers have a much broader variety of forestry concerns. The most frequent concern among first-years was conservation, but later-year students were just as likely to mention production, sustainable management, or forest legislation and policy.
Improving forestry curriculum will involve identifying what attracts students to the field. The authors suggest that since beginning students perceive conservation as an important concern, conservation-related issues should be incorporated into first-year studies, to capitalize on that interest.
The study also found that later-years students were more likely to give higher importance to competency related to traditional forestry areas (such as silviculture and management policy) and generic communication skills, such as oral and written com
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American Society of Agronomy