Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



This study examined the value added to standard textbook-based instruction of plant biodiversity by the use of the exemplary interactive CD-ROM, Conserving Earth’s Biodiversity. This CD-ROM features renowned conservation figure E.O. Wilson. The setting of the research was an introductory biology course in a rural public community college in the Deep South. Six participants were purposively selected to represent three levels of achievement and two groups, the CD-ROM group (exposed to CD-ROM in addition to the textbook) and the textbook group (only course textbook). Students experienced lecture-based, textual, virtual, and real experiences, and examined their ability to understand biodiversity-related concepts and to pursue guided-inquiry questions about local plant biodiversity. Their performance was assessed through activities, quizzes, concept maps, interviews, surveys, and students’ presentations. This study led to three main findings. First, use of the CD-ROM, in addition to the textbook, allowed students to form a well-rounded grasp of plant biodiversity. Second, use of the CD-ROM enhanced the development of inquiries on local plant biodiversity and the metacognitive phase of assigning roles for local plant diversity. Third, the Plant Biodiversity Literacy Rubric [PBLR] was developed, based upon the history of the concept of biodiversity and was used to evaluate students’ progress by assigning them to various levels of understanding during the study. The students in the CD-ROM group gained a broader perspective of plant biodiversity-related concepts, such as levels of biodiversity, hot spots, genetic diversity, food plant diversity, and threats to biodiversity. The CD-ROM was never detrimental to the learning process. They were more self-directed in their development of inquiries, felt more confident about their presentations, and were more metacognitive during their inquiries. Performance on specific activities such as the essay and The Golden List of Species suggested an enhanced cognitive-behavioral/affective experience for students in the CD-ROM group. The PBLR is an exportable instrument, which may allow ecology educators at all levels to assess student’s levels of understanding in a sensitive way. At this time, it is critical to gauge effective understanding of plant biodiversity and ecology education, as it is vital to the survival and well-being of life on Earth.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

James H. Wandersee



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Education Commons