SCIENCES of SOILS, Rel. 2, 1997 - http://www.hintze-online.com/sos/1997/Articles/Art5

Computer-assisted teaching in soil science

Peter Lockwood and Heiko Daniel

Agronomy and Soil Science, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia

e-mail: plockwoo@metz.une.edu.au


Key Words

computer uses, teaching, multimedia, CD-ROM evaluation

Abstract

A basic knowledge of soils is increasingly being required by university students from a variety of backgrounds who are training for a range of professions. Educational research suggests that multimedia programs could be of value in more effectively teaching the concepts and processes of fundamental soil science to such students because of the medium's combination of interactivity and dynamic visual information with text. At the University of New England, Australia, one such multimedia program (called "Oz Soils") is being developed, and this article reports the results of an evaluation of the program by means of student questionnaires. The response to the program was very positive, with students who used it as part of an introductory soil science unit reporting it to be easy and enjoyable to use, and believing it to be educationally effective. There was no significant difference in response pattern between female and male students. The minority of students in the sample who identified themselves in the questionnaire as either not enjoying using computers or generally finding them hard to use were generally slightly less positive about Oz Soils, but even in these groups a large majority gave favourable responses to the evaluation questions. The results of the evaluation provide encouragement for further development of multimedia programs to assist in teaching soil science as well as other sciences. The authors point out that it is important that the development of multimedia teaching packages should draw on sound educational theory and should have formative evaluation as an essential part of the development process.