I am currently interested in the use of scaffolds to support undergraduate biology students in decreasing plant awareness disparity and increasing botanical literacy. Plant awareness disparity (formerly known as plant blindness) is the inability to notice plants in one’s environment which leads to anthropocentric ideas such as “plants are unimportant,” “animals are more interesting than plants,” and “I don’t need to know about plants for my career,” (Wandersee & Schussler, 2001).
Botanical literacy is a subset of scientific literacy and is defined by how much a person knows about plants. There are suggestions in the literature that botanical literacy and plant awareness disparity are related to one another somehow, and I intend to find out if this is true.
Previously, I used a scaffold called a causal map to get students thinking about the role of plants in their environment. Causal maps are similar to concept maps except that they depict cause and effect relationships, with a ‘+’ or a ‘-‘ on each line between each concept, rather than a description of the relationship on each line.
In the future I would also like to incorporate a decision-making component as a strategy to combat plant awareness disparity in everyday life.