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Poster: Professionalism Outreach: Teaching & Learning


Virtual disease management using Blightpro DSS
M. MCKELLAR (1), I. Small (1), W. Fry (1) (1) Cornell University, U.S.A.

Experiential learning activities can support student understanding of material in an introductory plant pathology course where student base knowledge related to content can be limited. Unfortunately not all course content can be successfully translated into authentic hands-on activities. Computer-based activities such as simulations can be successful in meeting this challenge. We developed a laboratory exercise using a practice version of BlightPro DSS (Decision Support System), which models the progress and control of potato late blight epidemics. The major learning outcome for students is to synthesize and apply their knowledge of disease management to the “real-time” management of late blight in relation to weather, cultivar resistance, and fungicide application. Working in small groups, students developed fungicide schedules to protect their potato crop from late blight while minimizing economic costs and environmental impact. A class discussion on the outcome of student group data concluded the exercise. Students demonstrated a strong cognitive presence throughout the exercise, thinking critically about plant disease management. They sought information from instructors and electronic resources during the exercise, beyond what was required for completion. Student collaboration in small groups promoted cooperative learning opportunities with students sharing previous experiences and knowledge applicable to the exercise outside of content presented in lecture.